Itasca, IL - The National Safety Council announced today that it estimates that 476 people may die in traffic crashes this Memorial Day holiday weekend. In addition, NSC estimates that 24,700 people may suffer nonfatal disabling injuries in traffic crashes during the holiday weekend.
Safety belts play an important role in surviving motor vehicle crashes. NSC estimates that 376 people may survive crashes this holiday weekend because they will be wearing safety belts. However, NSC also estimates that an additional 121 lives could be saved if all drivers and passengers wore safety belts.
NSC issues fatality estimates for major holiday periods to draw attention to the serious issue of motor vehicle injuries and deaths. This year's Memorial Day weekend officially begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 28 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 31. In 2003, NSC estimated that 464 people would die in traffic crashes over the Memorial Day holiday. The actual number of fatalities is not yet available. In 2002, NSC estimated that 498 people would die in traffic crashes over the Memorial Day holiday. The actual number was 484.
Memorial Day is the beginning of the summer travel season when many take to the road for vacations or weekend trips. It also marks the annual Memorial Day "Click it or Ticket" Mobilization, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and supported by the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign of NSC. More than 12,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide will vigorously enforce drunk driving, seat belt and child restraint laws throughout the holiday weekend.
As the Memorial Day holiday period ends next week, the national focus will turn to crash prevention during National Safety Month in June. The U.S. Senate has issued a proclamation designating June as "Crash-Free June", recognizing the serious problem of motor vehicle deaths in America. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury death in America, with more than 43,000 people dying in crashes last year. The Crash-Free June campaign is focused on educating Americans about the behaviors that cause crashes - alcohol use, speeding, aggressive driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving, failure to yield and additional dangerous behaviors common to young drivers and passengers ages 16-24.
The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in home and communities, and on the roads, through leadership, research, education and advocacy.