Memorial Day Weekend Traffic Fatalities

Memorial Day celebrates the many men and women who have risked their lives to defend our country, but it also kicks off Summer travels. Whether by plane, train, boat or car, most Americans use this long weekend for a short getaway. With so many people leaving on vacation however, congestion and accidents are expected to follow. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 439 people will be killed and 50,500 will be seriously injured, over this three day weekend, due to Memorial Day motor vehicle crashes. 

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Memorial Day Car Crash Statistics

This year, it is expected that nearly 39.3 million Americans will go on vacation for Memorial Day. 88.1% of those traveling are planning to do so by driving, despite gas prices being increased by 11 cents since Memorial Day 2016. Additional statistics estimate that out of the over 50,000 car accidents and injuries incurred on this holiday every year, that 44% of these car crashes involve alcohol. In Michigan alone, out of all of the fatal car accidents that took place over Memorial Day weekend in 2015, approximately 33% of these motor vehicle accidents included a pedestrian or driver with alcohol in their system, according to Michigan State Police (MSP) reports.

Safe Driving Recourse

Although there are’t any plans to set up drunk driving checkpoints over the holiday weekend due to the questionable legality in Michigan, the MSP will still be on the road identifying drunk drivers and distracted drivers. MSP will also be involved with the Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts operation (C.A.R.E.), which is an international traffic safety initiative to keep the roadways safe during the Memorial Day weekend. Other programs that MSP will be participating in are the nationwide “Click it or Ticket” kickoff geared toward making sure that both children and adults are properly wearing and using their seat-belts. If a Michigan police officer discovers a driver not wearing a seat-belt between May 23 to June 5, they can expect to receive a base fine of approximately $65. 

Memorial Day Weekend Travel Safety Tips

Unfortunately, tickets and fines don't deter everyone into following the rules of the road. Therefore, even if you are adhering to the law, that doesn't mean that every other driver on the road will. So, for those who are planning on traveling by car, truck, bus, or RV this weekend, here are a few traffic safety tips provided by CNN News:

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  • Drive shorter distances. It is reasonably deduced that with the large number of drivers on the road who are traveling long distances, accidents can be reduced if other drivers drive shorter distances.  

  • Take the highway. On highways everyone is heading in the same direction and there are no turn lanes, so, traffic doesn't often stop - unless a car crash or traffic jam occurs. This helps make for a quicker journey than taking local roads which usually eat up time with red lights, turn lanes, and four way traffic.

  • Congestion could save a life. As odd as it sounds, taking the road less traveled could lead to speeding and accidents. In congested traffic, the only way to go is slow, which can further prevent accidents from happening or at least lessen the damage caused by any potential impact.

  • Leave early. Based on Waze traffic congestion studies, it is best to avoid the roads on Thursday between 3 to 5 P.M., on Friday from 8 A.M. to 3 P.M., and on Monday from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M.

  • Don’t drive under the influence. Is there really much more that needs to be said? Driving under the influence can affect reaction time, cognitive functions, and motor skills, all of which can lead to drunk driving car accidents.

  • Drowsy driving is a no-go. When experiencing constant blinking, swerving, or trouble recalling the last few miles, take it as a sign to pull over and rest or to switch drivers if possible. Falling asleep behind the wheel can lead to motor vehicle accidents and irreparable injuries. 

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It's also a general rule when driving any time that drivers should stay focused at all times on the road. That means no distractions from pets, phones, or even passengers. In this day and age, it's especially important to refrain from trying to text, post, tweet, record a video, or do anything else that can potentially cause attention to move away from the road. As many studies show, there are enough accidents caused around Memorial Day every year that could be avoided if drivers just take their time, drive responsibly, and abide by traffic laws.

Unofficial start of Summer aside, Memorial Day should be respected and we should do our best to remember those who died to serve our country. Thank you to those who laid down their lives in service, to those who have served, and to those who are serving. 


It is important for Michigan drivers to be aware that with the Summer travel season upon us, that the roads will quickly fill up with people wanting to take advantage of the warm weather. This surplus of out of town drivers on the road will cause travel times to be extended and thereby make crash statistics increase. Long weekends like Memorial Day, may even bring out an influx of road rage accidents and aggressive driving accidents. If you or a loved one becomes involved in a car accident over Memorial Day weekend, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. We provide free consultations to victims of motor vehicle accidents. Speak to a Michigan car crash lawyer today at 844.4MI.FIRM.