The roads can be a dangerous place on any given day, but statistics show that certain days stand out among the rest for being more dangerous. We happen to be coming up on one of those days. If you are planning to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, you won’t be alone.
According to AAA’s 2023 Memorial Day Travel Forecast, there will be nearly 2.4 million Floridians traveling at least 50 miles or more from home this weekend and 2.1 million of them will be sharing the highway with you. That’s 137,000 more drivers than last year. AAA’s forecast defines the Memorial Day travel period as May 25-29.
Memorial Day has long been heralded as the official start of summer, but it is also one of the deadliest driving holidays of the year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
, approximately 400 people die annually during Memorial Day weekend from traffic accidents. Additionally, approximately 13 percent more traffic deaths happen this weekend than others. The reason for this increase in traffic-related fatalities can be directly attributed to alcohol.
Nationwide, alcohol-impaired fatalities (involving blood-alcohol content of 0.08 g/dL or higher) in 2021 represented 31% of the total traffic fatalities. During the 2021 Memorial Day period, 40% of fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the National Safety Council (NSC)
What are the best times to drive Memorial Day weekend?
, a company that collects transportation data and works with AAA for holiday travel projections, predicts that the roads will be their busiest on Friday, May 26.
The best times to travel by car are on Thursday, May 25, and Friday before 1 p.m. and noon, respectively, while the worst times are between 3 and 6 p.m., according to INRIX. Traffic is likely to be lightest on Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28, with minimal impacts.
The best time to travel by car on Monday, May 29, is before 10 a.m., while the worst time is between noon and 3 p.m.
Before you get behind the wheel this holiday weekend, remember these driving safety tips.
- Give Yourself Extra Time. More cars will be on the roads this Memorial Day, which means congestion and longer travel time to get to your destination.
- Be Patient. You should expect your travel time to increase so be patient, not only with yourself but with other drivers and pedestrians.
- Take Breaks. If you are traveling a long distance, take breaks along the way. It is recommended that you get out and move your legs every few hours to keep yourself alert.
- Be Aware of Peak Travel Times. If you have some flexibility in planning your travel itinerary, it helps to be aware of what times will be the busiest on the road. For example, the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend is the busiest time to travel and will have the most traffic congestion.
- Drive defensively, distraction-free, and alcohol-free. Throughout the weekend, you should anticipate that a lot of people will be heading home from cookouts where they will likely have consumed alcohol. Alcohol is a contributing factor in a significant percentage of traffic fatalities during the holiday weekend. Be aware of drivers around you, especially those who are driving erratically, possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Do not drink and drive this holiday weekend.
- Be prepared. Know the weather forecast before you get behind the wheel. Is a storm likely? Do you have emergency supplies in the car like water, a first-aid kit, flashlight, blanket, map, and a roadside safety kit? Here is a checklist of items you should keep in your car.
Check your tires, fluids, and battery to avoid any potential breakdowns. We hope everyone gets to relax and enjoy this holiday weekend safely.
And remember, SEAT BELTS SAVE LIVES.
Studies show seat belts
, when used, are 45% effective in preventing fatalities among front-seat passenger car occupants. Based on the projected number of vehicle occupants who will wear seat belts, an estimated 169 lives may be saved this Memorial Day holiday period, according to the National Safety Council (NSC)
Injury Facts. An additional 118 lives could be saved if all vehicle occupants wore seat belts.