AAA projects the number of year-end holiday travelers will top 100 million for the first time on record. Nearly one in three Americans will take a trip this holiday season, with 100.5 million expected to journey 50 miles or more from home between Wednesday, December 23, 2015 to Sunday, January 3, 2016. (See more on AAA.com)
“The holidays are a time for joining with friends and family, and the record number of people traveling this holiday should make for a joyous travel season…Rising incomes and low gas prices are helping to fill stockings this year, and more people than ever will choose to spend those savings on travel this year.” – Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO.
Unfortunately, during the end-of-year holiday travel period, nearly 27,900 Americans will be seriously injured in auto accidents, and more than 250 will die.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has released reports estimating the number of traffic accidents and fatalities that occur on major holidays, including Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day. According to the NSC, the deadliest holiday this year will likely be the Fourth of July, which saw an estimated 540 motorists die during the travel period, which spans roughly four days. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the NSC’s most recent estimates of motor vehicle accidents and casualties for the six big holidays.
Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the NSC, explained that while travel during all these major holidays increases, the number of fatalities doesn’t always jump significantly. “The New Year’s holiday generally results in a significant increase in the number of fatalities when looking at a comparable period in same month,“ Kolosh noted. On the other hand, he added that in the case of Christmas, there isn’t a significant increase.
One major reason for the difference may be alcohol consumption. A separate report released by the Council this month shows that holidays like New Year’s Day and Independence Day are more likely to see people drink and drive. During the New Year’s period, between 2007 and 2011, an estimated 42% of traffic fatalities were the result of drinking and driving. On Christmas, just 35% of accidents were the result of drinking and driving, less than any of the major six holidays.
As might be expected, poor weather is regularly a factor in the accidents and deaths on the road. However, according to Kolosh, the actual effects of a severe blizzard on a major holiday are not what you might expect. “It’s a little bit counterintuitive, but good weather in winter months actually results in more fatalities,” he said. The reason for this, he explained, is people are less likely to travel more than absolutely necessary in bad weather.
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