Statistics show that Memorial Day weekend is one of the deadliest times for car travel in the United States. Memorial Day takes place on the last Monday in May, and the holiday weekend begins Friday night, includes Saturday and Sunday, and extends through Monday. Considered by many to be the unofficial start of summer, it is traditionally celebrated with family gatherings, grill parties, and picnics.
Traffic increases significantly on Memorial Day weekend, as people hit the road to take vacations, visit family, swim at the beach, or attend local events. In 2021 the National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that the Memorial Day holiday would result in 415 fatalities. The rate of deaths for Memorial Day weekend is four times that of any other holiday weekend.
What Causes Fatal Accidents on Memorial Day?
The top causes of fatal car accidents on Memorial Day weekend include the following:
- Congested roads: The more traffic on the streets, the less room for driver error and lapses in judgment. Accidents happen more frequently on congested roads.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: Many Memorial Day activities involve alcohol and recreational drugs, which impair driver reactions times and judgment, including overestimating the ability to drive while impaired. Drivers who get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs endanger the lives of everyone on the road around them.
- Speeding: Congestion leads to inevitable traffic jams and delays on a holiday weekend. To gain back time lost to congestion, drivers may attempt to speed through the rest of their trip and cause fatal accidents.
- Drowsy driving: The roads are full of tired drivers on Memorial Day weekend because they have traveled long distances. Being drowsy impacts driving skills the same way alcohol does; reaction time is slow, making it harder to perform an emergency maneuver to avoid an accident.
- Aggressive driving: The stress and frustration of holiday traffic can push some drivers over the edge and lead to aggressive driving behaviors, like tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes without signaling, and cutting other vehicles off. Running red lights is another form of aggressive driving that peaks on Memorial Day weekend and is often a factor in fatal accidents.
How Can I Stay Safe This Memorial Day Weekend?
If you are joining the many others traveling by car this Memorial Day weekend, there are many precautions you can take to ensure your trip will be a safe one. Some safety tips include:
- Prepare your vehicle. Good maintenance is a part of any safety program, and keeping your car in good shape can prevent a breakdown in holiday traffic. Before your trip, check your oil and fluid levels, tire pressure and treads, and wiper blades. Always have first aid supplies and emergency equipment, like flares, spare batteries, cellphone chargers, and jumper cables in your trunk.
- Start your trip well-rested. Prevent drowsy driving by getting lots of sleep before your Memorial Day trip. Go to bed early the night before and have plenty of water and healthy snacks on hand in the car to prevent dehydration and low blood sugar. Dehydration is a fatigue factor. If you feel your focus slipping or you are unable to stay awake, pull over and take a quick nap or let someone else have a turn behind the wheel.
- Avoid distracted driving. Program your route and choose your music or entertainment before starting the engine. Designate a passenger to help navigate and deal with small children. Put your cellphone away or turn on the Do Not Disturb function. If you must text or make calls, pull to the side of the road and stop first.
- Leave on time or early. Do not leave trip details to the last minute and then rush to hit the road. Anticipate traffic congestion and plan for it to avoid running late and speeding to your destination.
- Do not drive while drunk. Designate a driver, take a cab, use a rideshare service, or sleep on a couch, but never get behind the wheel of a car while drunk or under the influence of drugs. The consequences could be fatal.
- Wear your seat belt. Seat belts save lives, and the 2022 Click It or Ticket campaign is scheduled to start the weekend before Memorial Day and run through June 5. During this time, state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation will be enforcing seat belt laws to raise awareness about the importance of using seat belts and saving lives.
What Should I Do if I Get in a Car Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident over Memorial Day weekend, it is essential to stay calm. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Get out and check with the other driver and passengers if you are okay. Call 911 immediately if anyone is seriously injured.
While you wait for help, ensure your vehicles are not blocking traffic by moving them if it is safe. If they cannot be forced, use flares or safety triangles to block off the immediate area and prevent further crashes. Turn on your emergency flashers.
Exchange insurance and driver’s license information with the other driver. Get contact information from any eyewitnesses, such as pedestrians or drivers nearby.
Gather as much evidence from the scene of the accident as possible. This includes taking photos or videos of vehicle damage, visible injuries sustained by you or your passengers, skid marks on the road, property damage, weather conditions, road conditions, traffic controls, and writing down your account.
See a medical professional for your injuries. Even if you think you are okay, it is advisable to have yourself checked by a doctor, as you may be in shock and unaware of what happened. A trained professional can perform simple tests to diagnose injuries, such as concussions that often do not present symptoms immediately.
As soon as you can, notify your insurance company about the accident.
Injury Claims in Ohio
If you have been injured in a car accident in Ohio caused by another party’s negligence, you might be eligible for compensation. Sometimes, the fault for an accident lies with one party. In cases where more than one party is at fault, Ohio law uses the legal concept of modified comparative fault. This means that responsibility for an accident can be shared and assigned a value. If you were more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you are barred from seeking financial compensation. If your responsibility for the accident is judged to be less than 51 percent, the number of damages you are awarded will be reduced by your share of fault.
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Ohio is two years from the date the injury occurred. If you miss this deadline, your case will almost certainly be dismissed. Consulting with a qualified lawyer can help you meet legal deadlines.
Cincinnati Car Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Can Help You After a Memorial Day Accident
If you become injured in a Memorial Day car accident, contact one of our experienced Cincinnati car accident lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office. Our dedicated legal team will fight to hold the responsible party accountable. Call us at 513-964-2589 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Loveland, Ohio, we serve clients throughout Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.