Summer driving is some of the deadliest, IIHS reports

summer drivingUse caution on the roadways this summer—especially during the Fourth of July.

On average, more people die in motor vehicle crashes on Independence Day than any other day of the year, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis of five years’ worth of fatal crash data. Motorcycles and alcohol are the biggest contributors.

Based on the results of a five-year study IIHS published in 2016, every year on July 4, an average of 118.4 lives are lost in crashes, making it the most consistently deadly day of the year.

The study, which covered data from 2010 through 2014, found that Independence Day also is the deadliest holiday for motorcyclists with an average of 26 deaths, compared to the daily average of 12.1 deaths during the study period. New Year’s Day is the deadliest for people in passenger vehicles, with 86 deaths on average those five years.

Alcohol is a factor in a greater proportion of crash deaths on both July 4 and Jan. 1. Forty-seven percent of the deaths on July 4 and 62 percent on Jan. 1 involved at least one driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08g/dL. The average across all days in these years was 35 percent for deaths in crashes involving alcohol.

“Traveling on a major holiday is risky for many reasons,” says Chuck Farmer, IIHS vice president for research and statistical services. “In general, there are more people on the roads, and drivers may be navigating areas beyond their regular commuting routes. There’s a high incidence of alcohol use, which sharply raises the risk of crashing.”

He adds that “motorcyclists have to be especially careful, so wearing a regulation helmet is always a good choice even in states where they aren’t required.”

The data used in the analysis are from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System, an annual census of fatal crashes on U.S. roads.

IIHS is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses—deaths, injuries and property damage—from crashes on the nation’s roads. It is wholly supported by auto insurers and insurance associations, including Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. For more information, visit iihs.org.

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