July 4—the Deadliest Day for Traffic Accidents

July 1, 2004

With the Independence Day holiday on the horizon, the Insurance Council of Texas issued a reminder that July 4 is typically the worst day of the year for traffic fatalities.

The ICT noted that more such fatalities occur on July 4 than any other day of the year. July 3 is the second worst day for crash deaths. This year, July 3 and 4 fall on Saturday and Sunday, making it a hazardous weekend for motorists.

“The mix of summer travel, the weekend, a holiday and alcohol makes for a deadly combination,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, an Austin-based insurance trade organization representing property and casualty insurers. “With alcohol responsible for 40 percent of these traffic fatalities, we would urge those who must be on the road this weekend to drive defensibly and responsibly.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has analyzed data over a 17-year span from 1986 to 2002. The data shows July 4 is the deadliest day to travel, while six of the 10 days with the most deaths were holidays or near holidays. Complicating the July 4 weekend is the fact that more traffic fatalities occur on Saturday than any other day of the week. Also, more motorcyclists are killed on July 4 than any other day.

Tela Mange of the Texas Department of Public Safety says July 3, 1994, remains the deadliest day on Texas roadways in the state’s history. Forty-six people lost their lives that day including 14 people who died when their van collided with an 18-wheeler in Parker County. Mange said every available state trooper will be monitoring traffic this holiday weekend.

Alan Williams, the Institute’s chief scientist, said 117 people lose their lives every day on the nation’s highways. “The number of daily traffic fatalities is the equivalent of a major commercial airline disaster every day,” Williams said. “When a plane goes down, it’s big news and there’s a concentrated effort to find ways to prevent future crashes. Unfortunately, the toll of highway deaths doesn’t attract the same attention.”

According to the IIHS more than 300 people may die on the nation’s highways during the two-day period.

Traffic fatalities and serious injuries are a major factor in the determination of a territory’s auto insurance rates.

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