Analysis by the National Safety Council shows 455 people may lose their life in a preventable traffic crash over this year's Labor Day holiday weekend, which kicks off Friday, Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. and extends through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 4.
This estimate reflects the slight decline seen in motor vehicle fatalities through the first six months of 2023, but the figures are still a stark reminder that more must be done to prevent these deadly crashes.
NSC Urges Safe Travel and Collective Action on Labor Day Weekend
Mark Chung, Executive Vice President of Roadway Practice at NSC, emphasized the significance of Labor Day weekend as a time to unwind and cherish moments with loved ones.
However, he also expressed concern about the persistent threat of preventable roadway crashes, which continue to claim lives at an alarming rate.
Each fatality, he stressed, represents a profound loss to families, friends, colleagues, and communities. Chung called for collective efforts as a nation to transform behaviors and invest in infrastructure that fosters safe travel, ultimately preserving lives.
With the U.S. Department of Transportation officially endorsing the Safe System approach, which comprehensively addresses roadway safety, through initiatives like the National Roadway Safety Strategy, the country has taken pivotal steps toward addressing this pressing national issue.
Chung further emphasized that safety is a deliberate choice, urging all road users to adopt responsible behaviors whenever they are on the road.
For drivers, this means reducing speed, remaining vigilant for pedestrians and bicyclists, refraining from distractions and impairment, and wearing seat belts. Taking these actions, he affirmed, has the potential to save lives.
7 Tips to Stay Safe
NSC urges all drivers to share the road responsibly by following these safety tips during this Labor Day holiday weekend — and always:
- Prepare before you go: Before hitting the road, make sure your car is safe for driving. Vehicle owners should check the oil, put air in the tires, and check for and repair open recalls. Visit ChecktoPrtect.org to see if your vehicle has an open recall, and get it repaired for free.
- Buckle up: Lack of seat belt use is a top cause of fatalities in crashes. Buckle up, while also making sure you have appropriate car seats installed correctly.
- Designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation: Holidays are a cause for celebration, but alcohol is only one cause of impaired driving. Drugs, including opioids, marijuana and some over-the-counter medicines, can cause drowsiness, alter visual functions and affect mental judgment and motor skills.
- Slow down: Speeding is a factor in more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities. Drive the speed limit or below it if conditions dictate. Be sure to pay close attention to those walking and biking in order to keep all road users safe.
- Drive distraction-free: Thousands have died in car crashes involving cell phone use. Put your phones away and #JustDrive.
- Look before you lock: Pediatric vehicular heatstroke is still the leading cause of non-crash motor vehicle-related fatality for children. So far in 2023, 19 children in the U.S. are reported to have died because of this completely preventable tragedy. Always check your back seat for children or animals when you reach your destination.
- Demand safer roads and safer speeds: Join the Road to Zero Coalition to learn about the Safe System approach on road safety. Elements of safer roads include rumble strips, protected bicycle lanes, clearly marked crosswalks, roundabouts and much more. Roadway design influences motor vehicle speed, which has profound implications on crash severity for all road users.