NSC Estimates 400 Labor Day Weekend Traffic Deaths

The National Impaired Driving Crackdown that continues until Sept. 5 is trying to get impaired drivers off the road. Not drinking and driving tops the National Safety Council’s safety tips for the holiday weekend.

The National Safety Council’s Statistics Department has estimated 400 people will die in traffic accidents during the Labor Day holiday period, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, and will end at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5. A National Impaired Driving Crackdown that began Aug. 19 continues until the end of the period in a bid to reduce drunk driving accidents and related fatalities.

The department’s prediction with a 90 percent confidence interval is 337 to 472 traffic deaths for the period. Even the upper end of that range is better than most recent years, according to NSC’s chart:

  • 2004: 480
  • 2005: 500
  • 2006: 487
  • 2007: 508
  • 2008: 473
  • 2009: 351

For the past six years, the Labor Day weekend has averaged 14.6 percent more traffic fatalities than similar non-holiday periods, according to the council, which estimated 142 people "may survive the holiday weekend because they will have worn safety belts, while another 102 lives would have been saved if all had worn safety belts." Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest and deadliest times on U.S. roadways, it said.

The council’s survival tips are:

  • If you are drinking, do not drive.
  • If you plan to drink, designate a non-drinking driver or plan for alternative transportation, such as a taxi.
  • Support the strengthening and vigorous enforcement of impaired-driving laws.
  • Young drivers are at particular risk to be involved in alcohol-related crashes. If there is a young driver in your family, strictly enforce a zero tolerance policy with alcohol -– all states have a minimum drinking age of 21.
  • Your best defense against a drunk driver is wearing your safety belt, so buckle up.
  • Establish and enforce a driver's distraction-free zone, especially in cars equipped with electronic devices including cell phones, video games, and global positioning systems.
  • Make sure all passengers are buckled up and children are in age-appropriate safety seats.
  • Allow plenty of travel time to avoid frustration and diminish the impulse to speed.
  • Drive defensively and exercise caution, especially during inclement weather.

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