While a new wave of coronavirus lockdowns may be hitting just in time for one of America's most significant travel holidays, a report from a group of insurance industry experts cautions that Independence Day is still the deadliest weekend for U.S. drivers.
The study conducted by AutoInsurance.org looked at road fatalities on all major U.S. holidays. Between 2016 and 2018, there were more fatal car crashes — 1,349 — on Independence Day than any other. Averaging out to just under 450 fatal incidents per year, the 4th of July is deadlier than either Memorial Day or Labor Day, which landed at #2 and #3.
"Sadly, many holidays result in a spike in fatal crashes across the country, with more people on the road and a sizable increase in drunk driving incidents," the study said.
Rounding out the top ten deadliest holidays for U.S. drivers are Columbus Day (averaging 442 fatal crashes per year in the same period), Father's Day (439 crashes), Mother's Day (417 crashes), Halloween (405 crashes), Thanksgiving (405 crashes), Veterans Day (392 crashes) and Cinco de Mayo (387 crashes).
At the other end of the spectrum, Christmas is the safest major holiday for U.S. drivers. The study concluded that almost 35% more fatal crashes occur on Independence Day than on either Christmas or New Year's Eve.
Travel restrictions, business lockdowns and outright closures of multiple destinations across the U.S. are expected to put a damper on Americans' summer travel, but even with these obstacles in place, AAA predicts Americans will still make 700 million trips this summer. Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day will account for a large chunk of that travel.
While travel may be depressed by the current global health crisis, Americans are expected to continue avoiding mass transit solutions, which will keep them in their cars. AAA projects air travel will be off by as much as 74% (and rail, cruise and bus travel off by as much as 86%); personal vehicle travel is only expected to decline about 3% despite the drastic reductions in day-to-day driving resulting from the massive shift in American work habits and employment.
"Americans will get out and explore this summer though they’re taking a ‘wait and see approach’ when it comes to booking and are likely to book more long weekend getaways than extended vacations,” said Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of Travel.