Car accidents are more prone on Memorial Day that any other holiday we have. Or i should say car accident fatalities. Traffic will start today in most major cities around the United States. It is estimated 41.5 million Americans are traveling this Memorial Day weekend. You are 4 times more likely to have a fatality traffic accident over this holiday weekend that on a normal weekend.
The Covid pandemic has left Americans stranded at home. However, this year we will be out in force traveling, boating, and enjoying the outdoors. It is estimated that memorial day accident deaths will be between 337 and 502. Why such a big spread? The NHTSA has no idea how Covid will play a roll in people traveling this year.
How many people die each year in Memorial Day car accidents?
According to the NHTSA , Memorial day will have of 415 fatal accidents this year. These accidents include
- Car accidents
- Tractor Trailer Accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Boating accidents
Memorial Day is the deadliest travel holiday in the US. Labor Day averages 312 fatalities and the holiday we all think is the deadliest July 4th has around 307. Surprisingly New Years Eve doesn’t even make the list. Fatal car accidents on New Year’s Eve are around 245. The most deadly city is Houston Texas.
Memorial Day Accident Injuries
To define Injury in this section we will say that the injured went to see a doctor or medical specialist, or ER. The injured did not treat there injury at home. Nonfatal forecasted for the 2021 memorial day period is 47,300. This is just a forecasted number, the injuries will be between 38,400 and 57,200.
How we travel on Memorial Day
- 41.5 Million People are expected to be traveling this holiday weekend. Not all of these will be traveling by car.
- Planes- about 3.1 million Americans will be traveling by air to their Memorial Day destination, this is a 6.8% increase
- Vehicles-36.6 Million travelers by automobile. This is up 4.7% from the previous year
- Cruise ships, buses, and trains-1.8 million people traveling on Memorial Day weekend. This is up by 2.4%
Worst times to hit the road
Well, that is today Thursday. Most people take Friday off and start heading to the Memorial Day destination today. In all the major cities such as Atlanta, Houston, Las Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, Jacksonville traffic will start around 1:30pm. You need to add about 1.5 times the amount of time it would normally take you to reach your destination. You should exercise patience today and tomorrow while operating your vehicle on the roads.
Reasons for car accidents on Memorial Day
- Drinking and driving
- Running red lights
- Number of vehicles on the road
The National Coalition for Safer Roads recently released studies showing that Memorial Day weekend also tops the list of the weekend with the most red-lights run. This could be because of frustration with all the cars on the road or just in a hurry to get to where they are going. I actually surprised by this number of red light violations going up just on this weekend.
in 2019, 28% of all Memorial Day accidents fatalities had a blood alcohol level of .08g or higher. 37% of memorial day accidents involved alcohol impairment.
Memorial Day Boating Accidents
Memorial day is the start of the boating season for many Americans. The majority of Boating accidents on memorial day are due to alcohol. Alcohol And boating as we know , don’t mix. We do not have 2018 Memorial Day boating accident numbers. The coastguard does not break up boating accidents like we do car accidents. The data is also 2 years old. There are 11,961,568 recreational vessels registered in the United States. We have 2017 and 2019 boat accident information for recreational boaters only. This does not include commercial shipping.
2019 Boating Accident Statistics
In 2019, the Coast Guard counted 4,168 accidents that involved 613 deaths, 2,559 injuries and approximately $55 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
- Total recreational boating accidents -4168
- Property Damage-55 million
For 2019 Accidents, deaths , and injuries went down. However property damage went up
2017 Boating Accident Statistics
- Boating accidents -4291
- Property Damage-46 million
Top boating accident death causes
- 76% of deaths related to boating drowned.
- 84.5% of the deaths that drowned where not wearing a life jacket
- Alcohol use is the major factor in boating death accidents. Of the boating deaths, 19% were due to alcohol.
A lot of people are not boat owners, but they are boat renters. They lack experience on the water and do not know all the regulations that come with boating. Memorial Day boaters may be some of the least experience boaters on the water. 81% of deaths occurred from operators who do not receive any instruction or even know how to safely operate a boat.
Contributing factors to boating accidents
- Operator not paying attention
- Excessive Speed
- Not looking out for people in the water
As a boat owner I have seen my share of mishaps on the water. The majority of boating accidents I have seen on our lake is due to inexperienced people driving. Furthermore, im sure alcohol played a factor as well. We never go out on memorial day weekend anymore on our lake because of this. There are way too many boats, and the majority of them have no idea of what they are doing.
How to Stay safe Boating for Memorial day
1-Do not drink and drive a boat
Its very simple, don’t do it. Alcohol is the leading cause of boating fatalities. If you want to drink, just make sure you are not the driver. Designate a captain that will not drink. People seem to think boating laws are different for BUI than DUI. I assure you it effects you the same.
2-Boaters Safety Course
This is a big one. I have been boating for the past 25 years on a lake north of Atlanta. The number one issue is see other than drinking is lack of experience. Some skippers have no idea what they are doing. Educate yourself on the rules of the lake, river or ocean. Be very confident that you know how to drive and operate a boat in a safe manner.
3-Wear a Lifejacket
I despise wearing life jackets, however, anytime I am in the water I have one on. My children always have one on. Our boat is not made to go fast, it is made to pull. Our speeds usually range from 10mph to around 25mph. However, some boats go extremely fast, such as bass boats. They may travel up to 80mph to get to that favorite fishing hole. If they get ejected, they better have a life jacket on.
79% of all deaths were from drowning. Of those 86% were not wearing a lifejacket.
Carry a Coast Guard approved life vest (PFD) for each person on board your vessel. If anyone is in the water, you need to make sure they have a PFD on. PFD’s are designed to float you face up in the event you pass out to prevent drowning.
4-Take a communication device
While I don’t view this as a bid deal because im on a lake. If I was on the ocean or river I will always have a communication device. It also a good idea to let loved ones know were you are going and when you will be back. On water cruises make sure you have a cell phone and charger. Boating in Rivers can land you miles downstream from were you put in if your vessel breaks down. Make sure you have the proper equipment and have a back up plan if your vessel breaks down.
I don’t bother checking the weather because I go tot he lake. I just go outside and look up. However, if I was going out in an inlet in FL, I would glued to weather channel watching Jim Cantore tell me what’s going on. In some areas, such as FL, the weather can change quite rapidly or unexpected. Even if Jim says clear skies, it could change for the worse while you are 5 miles off shore.
6-Pay Attention, know your water way
I have seen my handful of beached boats and stuck vessels on the lake. If you don’t know a water way, you better take the time to learn it. All there signage they have on the lake is there for a reason. No wake zones and speed limitations in some areas must be abided by. Before visiting a lake, download a map of the lake and study it. Same thing goes for waterways, inlets, and rivers.
7-Carry all Coastguard approved equipment
This is required for average boats and runabouts
- Horn or Sound producing device
- CG approved PFD for everyone onboard and assessible
- Assessible, throwable type IV device ( the square seat that floats)
- Fire extinguishers for boats with engines or fuel
- Visual Distress Signals on Coastal Waters ( flares)
- Backfire Flame Arrestors on a carb engine or throttle body of a fuel injected engine
- Blower Motor for ventilation (removes gas fumes from engine compartment)
- Navigation lights
These are just the minimal required by the USCG to operate a small boat. You may want to carry more, such as a first aid kit.
Issues you could face traveling on memorial day
AAA estimated it will help about 340,000 motorists this year during Memorial Day weekend. The leading cause of stranded motorist on Memorial Day:
- Dead Batteries
- Locked out of Vehicle
- Flat Tires
This is not all the reasons, however, these are the most common reasons motorist are stranded on Memorial Day weekend. Before hitting the road on Memorial Day you can make sure you check a few things on your car to make your journey a safer one.
If you are driving this memorial day
- Tire Pressure-set to manufacturer’s specifications
- Tire condition-Check the condition of your tires
- Coolant level-make sure your coolant level is correct and if not, find out if you have a leak
- Battery Condition-Have your battery checked as well as your alternator
- Check engine light-make sure you have it diagnosed before taking a long trip. It could be minor, or it could leave you stranded. Most auto parts store will do this for free.
- Check your spare tire-make sure the air pressure is correct. It will leak down over time
- Wear your seatbelt (Make sure all your occupants are buckled up. Seat belts are 45% in preventing injuries for front seat occupants)
You should know if your car is safe to drive a long distance. As the a responsible driver you owe it to your family or passengers to make sure you car is in roadworthy condition. Don’t make the memorial day weekend a nightmare because of car issues.
Things you should have, just in case you have car issues and you are waiting on the side of the road for help
- Cell phone
- I-pad-So when you are stranded, your kids have something to play with
- First Aid Kit-You never know when you will need it, better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Gas prices have gone up recently but that does not appear to deter motorist from traveling this year on Memorial Day. Please be careful this weekend and be patient. Traffic will be more than usual so allow yourself more time to get to your destination. Hopefully you and your family will build some lasting memories this holiday weekend