Beware the Deadliest Holiday Weekend to Be on the Road

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Angry driver in traffic gestures with his hand
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As if having to battle your way through crowds of tourists isn’t enough, here’s another reason you might want to stay home on Memorial Day weekend: You’re more likely to die in a fatal car accident during the May holiday than on any other holiday weekend.

That’s according to an analysis by ValuePenguin. Seeking to determine which holidays saw the greatest number of fatal car accidents, the financial data site examined accident data for 2011-2015 maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, is most deadly of the year’s holiday weekends, followed closely by the two other summer holidays:

  • Memorial Day weekend: 312 fatal accidents, on average
  • Labor Day weekend: 308
  • 4th of July weekend: 307
  • Easter weekend: 280
  • Thanksgiving weekend: 258

By comparison, a “normal” three-day weekend period sees 250 fatal accidents, on average, ValuePenguin reports.

Memorial Day weekend also brings the greatest chance of getting into a drunken-driving accident. Of all accidents that happen over the holiday weekend, 40.3 percent involve a drunk driver, on average, compared with 29.2 percent for a normal three-day period.

A busy holiday weekend for travel

If that’s not enough bad news for you, AAA projects that 39.3 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles from home this Memorial Day Weekend by road, sky, rail or water. That would be the greatest travel volume on a Memorial Day Weekend since 2005. Most of these travelers — 88.1 percent — plan to hit the road.

Bill Sutherland, AAA’s senior vice president for travel and publishing, cites improving economic conditions:

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year. Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

An expensive holiday weekend to travel

As we note in “5 Careless, Costly Summer Travel Mistakes,” it’s generally more expensive to travel during the three holiday weekends of summer compared with other summer weeks or weekends.

This year will be no exception, based on AAA’s numbers. The nonprofit association of motor clubs reports that on Memorial Day:

  • Gas prices are expected to be the highest since 2015.
  • Hotel prices are 18 percent higher than last year.
  • Car rental rates are 7 percent higher than last year.

If you’re determined to leave home this Memorial Day weekend, first check out “13 Simple Ways to Save on Your Summer Vacation.”

What’s your take on traveling during summer holiday weekends? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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