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Which Holiday is the Most Dangerous for Travelers?

The weather outside might be frightful and the fire in the fireplace might indeed be delightful, but holidays mean that Americans have plenty of places to go. And while many might be under the impression that the approach of the winter holidays means a spike in automobile fatalities is looming right around the corner, CBS News reports of an analysis conducted on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that shows otherwise.

Personal finance website ValuePenguin took a look at traffic fatality statistics for the nation’s major holidays and found that despite the snow, ice, and other complications of winter driving that could lead to an on-road incident, summer holidays are a much more dangerous time to be on the nation’s highways.

Between the years of 2011 and 2015, Memorial Day weekend proved deadliest with an average of 312 fatal traffic collisions per year. Conversely, Thanksgiving – one of the biggest travel holidays of the year – averaged just 258 while Christmas was in last place (even under New Year’s) with 231. Three cities in two states took the ranking of deadliest city to drive in during these holidays. The Texas cities of Houston and San Antonio took the top spots for Memorial Day, Independence Day, New Year’s, and Christmas while California’s Los Angeles proved deadliest for Labor Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving. This is particularly interesting because while the northeast corridor of Washington, D.C. to New York maintains a high concentration of traffic incidents year-round, the holidays bring a high enough concentration of traffic collisions to other cities to offset them.

Regardless of the time of year, there are plenty of things drivers can do to try to increase their safety on the nation’s roadways, as well as the safety of those around them. For many, a simple return to the basics of defensive and attentive driving as was learned in their first days of driver’s education could be enough to avoid becoming a statistic. The use of seat belts, adherence to the speed limit, increased following distance, and the use of turn signals are all fundamental aspects of driving regardless of how long one has been behind the wheel. At the same time, minimizing distractions, staying off the phone, and never texting while driving could also contribute to a significant drop in fatal and non-fatal automobile collisions.

Holiday or non-holiday; car, truck, or van; highway or side road – drivers must always remember that regardless of the level of comfort afforded them by their vehicle, they are in control of over a ton of materials and flammable liquids moving, at times, at well-over a mile a minute. At that speed, life can change in, quite literally, the blink of an eye.