Memorial Day Weekend among Most Dangerous Holidays for Travel

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm remind the driving public that holidays are the most dangerous times of the year for travel. In fact, Memorial Day consistently ranks among the top five most dangerous days of the year to be on the road.

Although most drivers assume the majority of accidents happen during the winter months, the reality is that the warmer spring months are much more prone to accidents. One news station reported that, in 2012, about 26% of all auto accidents occurred in March through May, and another quarter between September and November. To compare, the winter months accounted for about 23%.

Although these percentages seem relatively minor, it may be helpful to remember while out on the road this spring. Drivers, particularly in the Northern states, understandably drive more defensively in the winter months, when unpredictable weather and poor road conditions seem more threatening. In case you’ve been out of the country, spring in the United States can be just as unpredictable, with unexpected rain and thunderstorms, wind gusts, and sudden shifts in temperature.

Weekend holidays such as the upcoming Memorial Day also bring a significant surge in roadway crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Memorial Day consistently ranks in the top five most dangerous day for travel every single year (the others are New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, July 4th, and Labor Day).

In 2009, the NHTSA recorded that 473 people died on American roadways during the three-day weekend, and about 42% of those fatalities involved alcohol. It is worth noting that seat belts reduce fatalities by an estimated 45%. Based on this estimation, about 212 people’s lives would be saved this Memorial Day weekend if they used their seatbelts.

Due to this known increase in roadway dangers, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently announced that roadwork will be suspended wherever possible over this holiday weekend. This is being done to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow throughout the state. IDOT is also providing advanced notice of lane closures that will remain in place this weekend. Illinois drivers will be able to enjoy this construction suspension between 3 p.m. Friday to midnight on Sunday.

In related news, a recent auto incident in Damascus, Virginia injured 60 people and sent nine others to the hospital. During a local parade, a car plowed into both spectators and participants, sending hundreds of people running and screaming.

The incident occurred during the beginning of the Hikers Parade at the annual Appalachian Trail Days Festival in Damascus. Fortunately, none of the 60 injuries appeared to be life-threatening. William H. Nunley, the Damascus police chief, stated that the driver lost control of the vehicle from effects of a medical condition, though the specific ailment was not specified. One news station reported that the driver may have been elderly.

The car was participating in the parade, and was traveling at about 20 to 25 miles per hour when it started drifting into the crowd that afternoon. Nunley estimated that the car drove into about 1,000 people while drifting out of control. Spectators immediately started running, shouting, and yelling for others to get out of the way. Law enforcement and emergency rescue personnel were already on scene and were able to immediately aid the injured.

Along with the nine more seriously injured, the driver was also taken to a nearby trauma center. The director of emergency management told reporters that the accident was indeed caused by a medical emergency, and was not deliberate in any way. Those injured sustained a wide range of injuries, from bruises to broken bones. Nearly all injured were participants in the parade, and came to celebrate the festival from outside the Southwest Virginia area.

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm remind the public to use caution while driving this weekend even if you are not celebrating. If you see anyone driving suspiciously, do not hesitate to call the authorities to report erratic behavior. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation for any past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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