Itasca, IL May 26, 2017 – National Safety Council estimates indicate that 409 people may be killed on the roads during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday period – the highest estimate the Council has released for the Memorial Day holiday period since 2012. The estimated number of fatalities is 12% higher than the average number of deaths (364) that occurred during the previous six Memorial Day holiday periods[i]. The Council also estimates 47,000 people may be seriously injured[ii] on the roads during the three-day holiday period, which begins at 6 p.m. ET Friday, May 26 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET Monday, May 29.

“Memorial Day should mark the start of summer – not the start of another deadly driving season,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Paying attention, slowing down and being courteous can ensure you and your fellow travelers make it to picnics, beaches and BBQs rather than emergency rooms.”

The Memorial Day estimates are in step with a nationwide upward trend in vehicle deaths. Preliminary NSC estimates indicate traffic deaths increased 6 percent in 2016, and 14 percent since 2014 – the steepest two-year jump since 1964.

Tips to ensure a safer holiday weekend include:

  • Wear a seat belt on every trip. About 159 lives may be saved during the holiday because people will buckle up.
  • Make sure children are restrained in safety seats that are appropriate for their height, age and weight.
  • Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation. Impairment begins with the first drink.
  • Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
  • Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free.
  • Do not allow teens to drive with their friends. A single young passenger can increase a teen driver’s fatal crash risk 44 percent.[iii]
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. MyCarDoesWhat can help drivers understand the ins and outs of features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning systems and backup cameras.

Supplemental information about the NSC motor vehicle fatality estimates for the Memorial Day holiday period can be found here.

About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council,, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.