Deaths Rise – Drive Safe Memorial Day Weekend

National Security Council estimated 450 people may lose their lives on U.S. roads over Memorial Day weekend in preventable crashes. According to estimates recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), American roads are the most dangerous for 16 years; death on the road increased by 10.5% in 2021 compared to 2020. With Memorial Day being one of the most dangerous driving weekends of the year, NSC urges everyone who chooses to drive to plan ahead and practice safe driving behaviors. Memorial Day extends from 6 p.m. Friday May 27 for 11:59 p.m. MondayMay 30.

“More than 100 people die every day on our roads, and that number keeps growing,” said Marc Chung, Executive Vice President, Road Practice at NSC. “The NSC and NHTSA both estimated significant increases in road fatalities last year, putting us at a 16-year high. It’s devastating to see lost progress, and more important than ever, every individual is getting involved, taking security personally and doing their part to reverse this horrible trend.

The National Safety Council implores all drivers to make the right choices this holiday weekend to ensure everyone gets to their destination safely. Here are some safe driving tips to consider this Memorial Day weekend:

  1. Buckle up your seatbelt: Failure to wear seat belts is one of the main causes of death in accidents. Buckle up, while making sure the correct car seats are installed correctly.
  2. Designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation: The holidays are a cause for celebration, but alcohol is only one cause of impaired driving. Drugs, including opioids, marijuana, and some over-the-counter medications, can cause drowsiness, impair visual function, and affect mental judgment and motor skills.
  3. To slow down: Speeding is a factor in more than a quarter of all road deaths. Drive below the speed limit. Be sure to pay close attention to those walking and cycling to ensure the safety of all road users.
  4. Prepare before you go: Before hitting the road, make sure your car is safe to drive. Vehicle owners should check oil, put air in tires, and check and repair open recalls. Visit ChecktoProtect.org to see if your vehicle has an open recall and get it repaired for free.
  5. Drive without distraction: Thousands of people have died in car accidents involving cell phone use. Put away your phones and #JustDrive.
  6. Look before you lock: Pediatric vehicular heat stroke is still the leading cause of non-traffic related death in children. Since 1998, more than 900 children in the United States have died from this completely preventable tragedy. Always check your back seat for children or pets when you reach your destination.

Additionally, nearly a year ago, NSC and its partners brought in senior leaders from key Department of Transportation safety agencies in light of rising road fatalities. Today, the NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) still lack confirmed leaders. With this crisis on our roads, NSC continues to urge action to appoint – if necessary – and confirm the leaders of these key agencies.

See additional information on Memorial Day holiday death estimates and additional motor vehicle data and research at injuriesfacts.nsc.org.

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