Road deaths this Fourth of July are expected to be higher than the last time the holiday fell on...

Road deaths this Fourth of July are expected to be higher than the last time the holiday fell on a Wednesday.

Photo via Thue/Wikimedia.

Some 164 people may lose their lives on the roadways during the Independence Day holiday period and an additional 18,600 may be seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes, according to data released today by statistics professionals at the National Safety Council (NSC).

The Council is urging motorists, including commercial drivers, to be extra cautious on the highways and byways between 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, to 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 4.

The last time the holiday fell on a Wednesday, in 2012, there were 157 traffic fatalities. This year's estimate is 4% higher, according to the council.

Holidays often include celebrations involving alcohol consumption, a major contributing factor to motor vehicle crashes. This Fourth of July, drivers should be proactive and on the lookout for impaired drivers.

In fact, the council's analysis shows that during the 2016 Independence Day period, 41% of fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver — the highest percentage among all the major holidays.

The council offered the following safety advice for fleet drivers to ensure safety during the holiday period:

  • Practice defensive driving: Buckle up, get plenty of sleep before driving, and avoid distracted driving behaviors.
  • Know your vehicle's safety systems: Now is a good time for fleet managers to remind drivers to familiarize themselves with all the critical safety systems.
  • Get recalls fixed: Before sending any driver out, make sure their vehicles do not have an open recall.

Motor vehicle accidents claimed a record high 161,374 lives in 2016 to become the third leading cause of death in the United States for the first time in recorded history. In fact, 2016 marked a 14% increase in roadway deaths since 2014 — the largest two-year jump in 53 years.

To learn more about Fourth of July fatality estimates, see this information from the NSC.

Related: AAA Predicts 47M Fourth of July Travelers

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

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