Labor Day is third-deadliest weekend for American drivers, study says

Summer is the deadliest season for American drivers, and Labor Day is the third deadliest holiday overall on U.S. roads, a study cautions. In a typical year, more than 440 fatal crashes will occur over the end-of-summer holiday.

The study conducted by looked at road fatalities on all major U.S. holidays between 2016 and 2018. During that period, Labor Day was the third deadliest holiday behind Memorial Day at #2 and Independence Day at #1. There were 1,349 fatal crashes reported over the Fourth of July holidays, averaging out to just under 450 fatal incidents per year. Labor Day checks in at an average of 443. 

Though pandemic-related closures and restrictions continue to cycle in and out around the country, Labor Day is still expected to be a high-traffic weekend on America’s highways. While the sheer volume of travelers does contribute to the total number of fatal accidents, the study suggests that drivers who have done too much celebrating are more likely to be involved when somebody dies in a car crash.

“During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, we saw a substantial decrease in fatal crashes on our nation’s roadways as folks quarantined at home and traveled less. This decrease was especially true given that drunk driving dropped during COVID-19,” the study summary said. 

“This rise will be especially felt during the upcoming Labor Day weekend, a time when traffic fatalities, especially drunk driving-related deaths, are historically high,” it continued. “After being cooped up at home for the past few months, we imagine this Labor Day will bring many people out to party at the nation’s beaches, parks, and other hotspots, even as the World Health Organization and other agencies recommend continued social distancing.”

Rounding out the top 10 deadliest holidays for U.S. drivers are Columbus Day (averaging 442 fatal crashes per year in the same period), Father’s Day (439 crashes), Mother’s Day (417 crashes), Halloween (405 crashes), Thanksgiving (405 crashes), Veterans Day (392 crashes) and Cinco de Mayo (387 crashes). 

The safest holiday for American drivers? Oddly enough, it’s Christmas. The study concluded that almost 35% more fatal crashes occur over the major summer holidays than on either Christmas or New Year’s. 

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