Road Safety: Almost 470 People Could Die from Memorial Day Weekend Crashes, NSC Estimates

Road Safety: Almost 470 People Could Die from Memorial Day Weekend Crashes, NSC Estimates

As you pack your bags and get ready to travel, remember to drive safely this weekend. It could save your life.

As people start counting down the hours until Memorial Day weekend, they should also be thinking about safety.

According to a press release, almost 470 people could lose their lives on the roads this weekend, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates.

Motor vehicle fatalities have been on the rise since 2019, according to data from NSC. While the National Center for Health Statistics has yet to announce the exact number of fatalities in 2022, NSC estimates that there were 46,270 motor vehicle fatalities.

With an estimated 37.1 million people hitting the road for Memorial Day—a number higher than the estimated amount in 2022—according to AAA, safety needs to be top of mind. Here are 11 tips from NSC on staying safe before and during your travels.

  1. Prepare before you go.” Before loading up the vehicle, make sure it’s in good condition. Does the oil need to be changed? Do you need to fill the tires? Make sure there isn’t a recall on your vehicle at CheckToProtect.org.
  2. Drive distraction-free.” More than 3,100 people lost their lives from distracted driving in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Put your phone down while on the road.
  3. Slow down.” Follow the speed limits. Slow down if conditions are not ideal or if there is bad weather, like rain or hail.
  4. "Designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation." If your plans may lead to impairment, make sure you designate a sober driver or you have another safe way to get back, like a ridesharing service.
  5. Avoid fatigued driving.” While your sleeping schedule may change over the weekend, be sure to rest before travelling. You should not drive if you’re tired.
  6. Buckle up.” Put your seatbelt on. If you’re driving with other people, make sure your passengers are buckled.
  7. Protect vulnerable passengers.” If you’re driving with a child in the vehicle, be sure that car seats are installed correctly.
  8. Look before you lock.” When you’re at your destination or taking a break and leaving your vehicle, ensure all children and pets are out of the car.
  9. Understand your vehicle’s on-board safety systems.” Knowing your vehicle’s safety systems and how they work is important to keeping everyone safe. Learn more about your vehicle at MyCarDoesWhat.org
  10. "Take an alternate path.” If your destination is nearby, consider other transportation options such as public transportation, biking or walking.
  11. Watch for all road users.” Be aware of other people on the road, whether they’re driving, biking or walking. The NSC recommends giving them adequate space.

“Car travel has the highest fatality rate of any major mode of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile,” warns Mark Chung, executive vice president of roadway practice at NSC in the news release.

“The reasons for this, particularly over a holiday weekend such as Memorial Day, are impairment from alcohol and/or another substance such as cannabis, as well as distraction and speed. For the safety and wellbeing of yourself, and the people around you, designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation, drive distraction-free and slow down,” Chung continued.

To learn more about staying safe on the road, visit NSC's website.

Editor's note: The headline has been edited to read "470 people," not "740 people."

About the Author

Alex Saurman is a former Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety,who has since joined OH&S’s client services team. She continues to work closely with OH&S’s editorial team and contributes to the magazine.

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