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Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Deadliest Days for Car Crashes

By Kat Zeman,

There's one reason not to cheer for Independence Day: It's one of the deadliest holiday for alcohol-related car crashes. Statistics gathered over the past 25 years show that, on average, nearly 51 percent of all deadly traffic crashes on July 4 are related to alcohol -- although that percentage varies from year to year.

The deadliest days
Holiday Fatalities
Fourth of July
(July 4) 200 deaths
(44 percent alcohol related)
Labor Day
(Sept. 1-3) 519 deaths
(40 percent alcohol related)
New Year's
(Dec. 30 -Jan. 1) 391 deaths
(40 percent alcohol related)
Memorial Day
(May 26-28) 491 deaths
(38 percent alcohol related)
(Dec. 22-25) 468 deaths
(36 percent alcohol related)
(Nov. 22-25) 548 dead
(35 percent alcohol related)
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2007 data

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been tracking car crash statistics for a quarter of a century. Holidays that sometimes rival the Fourth of July for fatalities include New Year's Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Eric Bolton, spokesperson for NHTSA, says that when people think of a deadly holiday "the intuitive thought would be New Year's Day." However, that association may be precisely why people stay off the roads on New Year's than they do on July 4, he says. (While the New Year's statistics are totaled over three days, the Fourth of July stats are for one day.)
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• 6 Top Car Insurance Myths Two years ago, 200 people reportedly died in car accidents on July 4. Out of that total, 44 percent died as a result of alcohol-impaired driving. By comparison, 391 people died that same year during a three-day period surrounding New Year's Day (NHTSA judges the length of a holiday based on which day of the week it falls). In that case, 40 percent were alcohol-related.
No matter what day it is, most crash fatalities occur on two-lane roads. Weekends are more dangerous than weekdays and more people die while driving in rain compared to snow or sleet. December, January and February are generally the most dangerous months for car fatalities.
NHTSA's 2007 annual report (2008 statistics will be released this fall) also states that the most dangerous time to drive is between midnight to 3 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, half of all fatal crashes that year occurred at speeds of 55 mph or more.

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