The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 164 people may die on U.S. roads this year on July 4th. The council also estimates an additional 18,600 people may be seriously injured due to motor vehicle crashes. United States' Independence Day is one of the nation's most celebrated holidays and holidays are traditionally a time of travel for families. This year an expected 47 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more. Many choose to travel by car which also has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile. The council also noted holidays are often a cause for celebrations involving alcohol consumption, a major contributing factor to vehicular accidents.
The council's analysis showed that during the 2016 Independence Day period, 41% fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver, which was also the highest percentage of all the major holidays. Nationally, alcohol-impaired fatalities represent 28 percent of total traffic fatalities. Motor accidents were a recorded high in 2016 with 161,374 lives lost, which rose to becoming the third leading cause of death in the United States history. 2016 was highest two-year jump with 14%, the most in 53 years.
This holiday period falls mid-week and the current mid-week Independence Day holiday which lasts 1.25 days, are relatively rare. There has only been six occurring in the 37 years since the inception of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System in 1975. Many are expected to take additional days off into a long weekend period. The council is urging motorists, including commercial drivers to be extra cautious on the roadways between 6pm Tuesday, July 3rd to 11:59pm Wednesday, July 4th. According to statistics, the last time the holiday fell on a Wednesday was on 2012 and there were 157 traffic fatalities. The council estimates a rise by 4 percent this year. Studies also show seat belts, when used, are 45 percent effective in preventing fatalities among front-seat passenger car occupants.