The Five Most Dangerous Holidays for Drivers

By Jacqueline Detwiler

Holidays are supposed to be times for good food and good cheer, but an accident can quickly turn one into a family’s worst nightmare. These five are the most dangerous holidays to be on the road, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s report on motor vehicle deaths over three- or four-day holiday periods from 2001 to 2006, as well as the percentage of fatal crashes caused by intoxication and the AAA-estimated number of cars on the road for each holiday period.

No. 5: New Year’s Eve/Day, Average Vehicular Deaths: 421

Don’t let the relatively low rank make you comfortable. Champagne and icy roads make Jan. 1 one of the single most dangerous days to be on the road all year.

No. 4: Labor Day Weekend, Average Vehicular Deaths: 488

Another long summer weekend makes our list due to overcrowded roads and out-of-town travel. Be especially vigilant if the holiday falls on Sept. 1 or 2 — those two days are among the top 10 most dangerous days for driving.

No. 3: Memorial Day Weekend, Average Vehicular Deaths: 493

Hordes of beach-goers crowd the same coastal roadways on this holiday, when 38 million people hit the streets in search of a warm, out-of-town weekend.

No. 2: Independence Day, Average Vehicular Deaths: 505

Keep an eye out for heavy drinkers who didn’t have the good sense to stay home and off the roads. An estimated 53% of fatal Fourth of July crashes involve at least one drunk driver.

No. 1: Thanksgiving,Average Vehicular Deaths: 573

Whether from postprandial exhaustion or a little too much wine with dinner, AAA’s biggest travel holiday of the year saw 623 traffic fatalities in 2006, the most recent year on record.

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