If the past 30 days of traffic statistics are an indication, we could see a record number of traffic fatalities in the days up to and during July 4th, historically the deadliest holiday for fatal crashes.
Predictions for Record July 4th Road Travel
For the fourth year in a row, AAA is expecting record travel on July 4th. According to its statistics, 44.2 Americans (13.7 percent of the population) will travel 50 or more miles away from home, with nearly 80 percent of trips by vehicle. It adds up to 1.2 million more travelers than last year and an increase of 2.9 percent over 2016. Those numbers point to the highest travel volume for the holiday on record.
AAA reported as many as 22 percent saying they will head to the beach. Small towns and rural areas will be the next popular destinations for 21 percent, and the cities will see an increase of 19 percent. Ten percent will head to lake areas, and mountains will be the destination for only 5 percent. In all, more than half-million Oregonians will get away during the July 4 holiday, the majority by vehicle.
Oregon’s Robust Economy Encourages More Travel
Oregon’s economy plays a part in the amount of holiday travel throughout the state and the likelihood of traffic fatalities. In December 2011 during the recession, the Oregon unemployment rate was at 8.9 percent. Six months later in July, with the unemployment rate still high, there were no recorded traffic fatalities on July 4th, considered to be one of the deadliest holidays for travel.
This February’s unemployment rate was the state’s best showing since at least 1976. Today’s low Oregon unemployment rate of only 4 percent means more discretionary income to plan getaway trips, with fewer Oregonians opting for “staycations.” It could also mean more fatal crashes.
More Vehicles on the Road Due to Lower Gas Prices
The price of gasoline also determines the likelihood of holiday travel. Nearly all states have seen a yearly price drop at the gas pump, which tends to encourage more trips. Gas prices have been declining every year since 2014, when the price per gallon was over $3.50. Today’s price of only $2.29 ($2.67 in Oregon) during July fuels an increase in holiday travel.
July 4th Travel Safety Tips from NHTSA
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers the following tips for safe summer travel:
Perform a Basic Safety Check
To prepare for traveling and prevent breakdowns, make routine car care tune-ups, battery check, and tire rotations. Also check your vehicle’s tire pressure, wiper blades, fluid levels, lights, and air conditioning before you go.
Check for recalls
Use NHTSA’s free VIN Look-Up Tool at www.nhtsa.gov/recalls to see if your vehicle has any unrepaired safety defects.
Protect Your Passengers
Be sure that all passengers in your vehicle wear a safety belt. It is safest for a child to ride in a car seat suited for their age and size, and all children 13 and under should ride in the back seat. To find the right car seat for your child’s age and size, visit www.safercar.gov/parents.
Share the Road and Stay Alert
Put a safe distance – three or four seconds – between you and other vehicles. Be mindful of motorcyclists and especially careful around pedestrians and bicyclists. During long trips, plan ahead for times to stop, relax, and stretch.
Store an Emergency Roadside Kit
Have emergency items readily accessible for your road trip. Add to your kit a cell phone and charger, first aid kit, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, water, and blankets.
Don’t Drink and Drive
An average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 51 minutes in 2015, so don’t drink and drive. If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver before going out.
Distraction accounts for approximately 10 percent of fatal crashes and 15 percent of injury crashes. Keep the cell phone down and out of site while driving.
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