National Safety Council: 390 Fatalities May Occur on Roadways During Labor Day Weekend

NSC reminds travelers that the goal is always zero deaths.

August 25, 2020

Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council urges Americans to drive defensively and designate a sober driver to help prevent an estimated 390 deaths and another 44,400 serious injuries on U.S. roadways during the upcoming Labor Day holiday period. The Labor Day holiday begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7.

Despite a nationwide pandemic, the estimate is consistent with the Council’s last few years of estimates for the three-day Labor Day holiday period, indicating that people are expected to travel even though COVID-19 infections remain high. The pandemic has had an indirect effect on roadway safety: Although the total number of deaths has fallen year over year in the first five months of 2020, the death rate skyrocketed. The rate of death on the roads was 23% higher in May 2020 compared to the same month last year, meaning more people are losing their lives for every mile driven.

The data give reason for additional caution as people take to the roads this Labor Day.

“Travel during holiday weekends always is risky, and this year our roads haven’t been safe even when traffic has been light,” said Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO. “We hope drivers take these figures as a reminder to slow down, pay attention and drive like their lives depend on it, because they do."

Alcohol often is a major factor in fatal crashes during holiday weekends, including Labor Day. In 2018 – the most recent year for data – 38% of fatal crashes involved an alcohol-impaired driver or motorcycle rider.

Tips for safer Labor Day travel include:

  • Practice defensive driving: Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions
  • Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from cannabis and opioids; visit nsc.org/rxpainkillers to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis
  • Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits; visit nsc.org/DriveitHOME for resources
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them; visit MyCarDoesWhat.org or information
  • Fix recalls immediately; visit ChecktoProtect.org to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall
  • Get involved in the Road to Zero Coalition, a group of more than 900 organizations across the country focused on eliminating roadway deaths by 2050; visit nsc.org/roadtozero to join.

Supplemental traffic fatality estimates information can be found here.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for over 100 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway and impairment. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

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