Traffic deaths are on the rise, and experts fear the trend will continue this summer during a period known as the 100 Deadly Days. Summer weekends tend to be the most dangerous, with seven out of 10 crashes happening on a Saturday or Sunday in the summer of 2014.
“While the statistics point out a dangerous trend, we have the ability to influence outcomes through our choices and behavior,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council (NSC). “Summer is typically a high-exposure period with lots of miles driven and several long holiday weekends. Take your responsibilities behind the wheel this summer seriously and ensure that you get to your destination safely.”
Traffic deaths in the U.S. increased each month during the six months leading up to the summer, compared to the same six month period a year ago.
NSC believes the spike in fatal car crashes is due in part to an improving economy. Lower gas prices and lower unemployment rates often lead to an increase in traffic because more people can afford to drive, and many travel long distances and take vacations.
Certain crash factors, such as speeding and alcohol, are also more common during the summer. A yearly average of 2,781 deaths in June, July and August involve speeding, and 2,846 involve alcohol, according to NSC analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
To help stay safe on the roads this summer, NSC recommends drivers:
• Learn about their vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. Free resources, such as MyCarDoesWhat.org can help drivers understand the ins and outs of such features as blind spot, lane departure warning systems and backup cameras. Visit www.MyCarDoesWhat.org to learn more.
• Buckle up for all trips — short and long, even back seat passengers.
• Designate a non-drinking driver or arrange alternate transportation.
• Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
• Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free.
• Monitor teens’ driving habits. An NSC survey found many parents are more inclined to loosen household driving rules during the summer. Teen passengers are one of the greatest distractions.
“We believe that by taking the proper precautions, we can make the roads safer and save lives this summer,” said Hersman.