With its barbecues, beach trips and fireworks, everyone welcomes July 4 as the official start of summer. If you plan to hit the road in Maryland this holiday weekend — you’re not alone. AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts some 870,000 Maryland drivers will travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the Independence Day weekend — a 2.3 percent increase over 2014. About one million of our neighbors in the Washington, DC area are also expected to take to the highways.
Good weather, lower gas prices, a rebounding economy and the fact that July 4 falls on a Saturday this year means Maryland will see a record number of holiday travelers on its roadways. But there’s a dark side to the July 4 holiday…
Traffic volume combined with alcohol consumption makes July 4 the deadliest day on the roads for traffic crashes, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). July 3 is the second-deadliest day.
Analyzing data from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the IIHS determined that between 1986 and 2002, an average of 161 people died in car crashes each July 4. About three of every four crash fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants, while another 13 percent were pedestrians and 7 percent were motorcyclists.
Other more recent data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that over the July 4th holiday period from 2009 to 2013, 750 people died as a result of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more. These accident fatalities accounted for 39 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities over this same five-year period.
Think about that for a moment: More than one-third of all U.S. traffic accident fatalities over a 5-year period happened over the July 4 holiday weekend. If that doesn’t give Maryland travelers a reason to slow down and think twice before drinking and driving — maybe the expected increased state police presence on Maryland roadways will. Be safe out there this holiday weekend. And if you see a suspected drunk driver, report it. You may save a life.
AAA Mid-Atlantic Projects over 870,000 Marylanders to Get Away for the Independence Holiday Weekend
AAA Mid-Atlantic News Release June 26, 2015
More than 1 million Washington area residents plan July 4th travel
WashingtonPost.com June 29, 2015
More crash deaths occur on 4th of July than any other day; July 3 is 2nd worst
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety July 1, 2004
4th of July Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Enforcement Campaign Materials
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Collected online July 3, 2015