The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 115 people may be killed on the roadways during the Christmas holiday driving period, and an additional 163 may be killed during the New Year’s holiday driving period. That number would likely be significantly higher if not for seat belts. This low-tech, highly effective motor vehicle safety feature is estimated to save 245 lives over the same driving periods. NSC is urging everyone in every seating position to buckle up and check to ensure car seats are properly installed.
The Christmas holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 24, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 25. The New Year’s holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1. An additional 13,100 people may be seriously injured in crashes over the Christmas holiday period, while 18,600 may be seriously injured over New Year’s.
“Making sure all holiday travelers arrive at their destinations safely should be at the top of our to-do lists,” said Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO. “That means buckling up, slowing down, avoiding distractions and driving sober. Arriving alive is the best way to start a new year and a new decade.”
Alcohol is a major crash factor around all holidays. During the 2018 Christmas Day holiday period, 37% of fatal crashes involved alcohol; that rose to 39% for the New Year’s holiday period.
All motor vehicle fatalities are preventable. In addition to wearing a seat belt, NSC recommends drivers:
- Designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation; impairment begins with the first drink
- Understand how drugs, including opioids, affect your ability to drive safely; visit nsc.org/rxpainkillers to learn more
- Avoid distracted driving, even hands-free
- Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
- Sign a New Driver Deal with teen drivers at DriveitHOME
- Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them at MyCarDoesWhat.org
- Check your vehicle for recalls at ChecktoProtect.org
About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.