ITASCA, Ill., Dec. 18, 2018 — The National Safety Council urges drivers to be extra vigilant as they travel to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. NSC estimates 422 people may be killed and 48,100 may be seriously injured in car crashes during the upcoming Christmas holiday period.
As many as 438 fatalities and 49,900 injuries may occur during the New Year’s holiday weekend. The Christmas holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25. The New Year’s holiday period begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 28, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.
AAA forecasts that more than one-third of Americans will travel this holiday season. The record-breaking 112.5 million travelers taking to the nation’s runways, roads and rails for the year-end holidays represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel. For the more than 102 million people who will pack up their cars for a holiday road trip, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be as much as four times longer than a normal trip.
“Celebrations are a huge focal point for family and friends this time of year, but making sure all holiday travelers arrive at their destinations safely should be at the top of our to-do lists,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “For those on the road, that means buckling up, slowing down, avoiding distractions and driving sober. Prioritizing safety is the best way to welcome the new year.”
With preventable deaths at an all-time high, the Council has called for states to take actions to reduce their residents’ risks – particularly when it comes to safety on the roads. The NSC State of Safety report encourages states to implement proven countermeasures to help reduce risk, including instituting sobriety checkpoints, requiring ignition interlocks for first-time and repeat DUI offenders, banning open containers, or automatically revoking licenses for more than 90 days for drivers with blood-alcohol levels above .08 or those who refuse to test. The Council also applauded Utah’s decision to move to a .05 legal limit, which takes effect Dec. 30.
Additional tips for safe travel include:
- Designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation; impairment begins with the first drink
- Understand how opioid pain relievers may affect your ability to drive safely. Visit StopEverydayKillers.org to learn more.
- Buckle up on every trip and in every seating position. Seat belts could likely save 335 lives over the two upcoming holiday periods.
- Make sure children are properly restrained in safety seats appropriate for their height and weight
- Avoid distracted driving, even hands-free
- Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
- Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them at MyCarDoesWhat.org
- Check your vehicle for recalls at ChecktoProtect.org