Chris D. Hefty

June 8, 2018

We all know the Fourth of July as a day to kick back, relax, and celebrate the freedoms that we all take for granted every day. Many of us spend the day with family and friends, enjoying the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. This holiday is the perfect reason to get together with people that you care about and have fun. After all, we live in a free United States, so why not celebrate all that has happened in order to get us here?

This all sounds great, right? There is one unfortunate circumstance that many people find themselves dealing with around this holiday weekend—travel. For most, seeing family is not as easy as walking down the street or driving to the next neighborhood over. Most Americans find themselves having to drive quite a distance in order to celebrate this holiday the way that they want to.

With so many Americans traveling during the same, very short time period, there is bound to be some unfortunate complications. Highways are backed up and busy, drivers are getting frustrated and angry, and the excitement for the holiday is quickly replaced by aggression and anxiety. We all want to get to our destination, but we all want to get there as soon as possible, and this can create difficulties. Add in the fact that this is a holiday where a lot of people are staying up late and consuming alcohol, and the roadways become even more dangerous.

If we all want to get to our destination more efficiently, why is it that this specific holiday causes these significant travel problems? Why don’t these types of problems arise surrounding other holidays? Statistically, the Fourth of July is one of the worst traveling days of the year—but why? We have broken it down into three main reasons:

More people are on the road.

As stated before, because of the nature of the holiday and travel, there are more people on the road than any normal weekend. A lot of people have time off work, so they are using it to travel and visit friends and family. However, unlike holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, most people do not have a significant amount of time off of work, usually just a day or two. This means that people are having to condense their trips into a smaller amount of time, leaving most travelers driving on the same days.

Without even taking accidents into consideration, this amount of travelers on the road causes delays naturally. With highway changes and lane merging, a higher abundance of motorists slows these processes down. Also, with more people on the road, vehicle malfunctions are also more likely.

AAA has stated in the past that the Fourth of July is one of their busiest days, having to help motorists along busy highways and parking lots to fix problems with their cars, such as flat tires, dead batteries, and keys that have been locked in cars. In fact, the company predicts that they will have to come to the aid of 520,000 stranded motorists throughout the holiday weekend for a variety of different reasons.

With so many people on the road and the abundance of traffic, drivers are finding themselves sitting unmoving on crowded highways. This can cause a lot of problems with vehicle maintenance. For example, with the holiday weekend falling right in the middle of the summer season, the constant sun and heat beating down on the vehicle can cause things to overheat, such as the battery—another thing that AAA and similar companies will aid with.

People are driving farther distances.

Not only are there more people on the road, people are driving farther distances in order to celebrate with family and take advantage of the long weekend. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety says that the average distance traveled on the Fourth of July is 617 miles. To people who live near their family or do not travel very often, this number may seem high, but there are a lot of Americans who drive almost cross-country in order to celebrate this holiday.

Driving longer distances can result in fatigue and frustration, especially if there is a lot of traffic. These feelings can cause drivers to get into accidents.

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, on average, 161 people die in motor vehicle accidents every year on the Fourth of July. While fatalities happen every day, this high of a number for one specific day of the year should not be taken lightly. The fact that many drivers have been on the road for hours at a time is one of the leading causes of accidents and, in turn, these fatalities.

People have been drinking.

Many Americans find themselves consuming alcohol during the holiday—sometimes too much. According to a study done by Traffic Safety Marketing, between 2008 and 2012, 765 people lost their lives in crashes due to drunk drivers over the Fourth of July period. This accounts for 40% of total vehicle fatalities over the entire span of those four years.

Drinking and driving is an entirely different topic with a multitude of surprising statistics surrounding the Fourth of July. This holiday, along with New Years and Thanksgiving, is one of the most popular drinking days of the year. Unfortunately, if someone is irresponsible enough to drink and drive, they are not only endangering themselves but all of the other drivers on the road as well.

Be safe and smart when traveling during Independence Day weekend.

Other than smart alcohol consumption, one of the easiest ways to prevent yourself from causing an accident on the road way is to be aware of the risks that lie ahead of you. When you choose to travel during this holiday weekend, it is important to understand the risk that you are taking on yourself as well as the risks that you are putting on other drivers.

The two most important things to remember when getting in your car over the holiday weekend are:

  1. Do not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking alcohol.
  2. Expect delays. No one is going to get where they are going as quickly as they would like. The more that you anticipate these delays, the less you feel frustrated and anxious, resulting in safer driving.

Although you can take preventative action from causing an accident yourself, the unfortunate truth is that you cannot stop other drivers from acting irresponsibly. Accidents do happen. If you or a loved one finds yourself injured in a motor vehicle accident during the holiday weekend or otherwise, do not hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney at The Law Office of Chris D. Hefty.