Is Memorial Day Weekend the Deadliest Holiday for Car Accidents?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Memorial Day weekend has the highest rate of fatal car accidents compared to any other holiday weekend in the United States. Regarded as the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day falls on the last Monday in May, though the three day weekend begins the Friday evening before Memorial Day itself. Many people take advantage of the long weekend to hop in the car to go to the beach, visit friends and family, and attend local events. Along with the Fourth of July, it is one of the most popular weekends for road trips.
Why Are There So Many Fatal Accidents Over Memorial Day Weekend?
There are many different reasons why fatal accidents spike over the Memorial Day weekend and understanding why can help you stay safe if you will be out on the roads at the end of May. The following factors contribute to the high rates of Memorial Day fatal car crashes:
- Traffic congestion: the increase in holiday traffic results in an increase in accidents, including fatal ones. When the roads are overcrowded there is less room to maneuver around unexpected obstacles.
- Drunk/drugged driving: unfortunately after celebrating at Memorial Day parties or picnics where alcohol has been served, too many people make the mistake of getting behind the wheel to go home resulting in an increase in fatal accidents. Drunk/drugged drivers have impaired judgement and slower reaction times.
- Drowsy driving: fatigued drivers may not realize their skills are just as impaired as those who have had too much to drink. Drowsy driving can be caused by lack of sleep, dehydration, or driving too long without a break.
- Distracted driving: cars today have a lot of technology that can be distracting to the driver including navigation systems, entertainment systems, and social media. On a road trip drivers may be eating, drinking, and tending to children all of which takes their attention away from the road and can cause a serious accident.
- Aggressive driving: drivers who are impatient may be pushed over the edge by holiday traffic jams and congested roads to behavior that is considered aggressive. Speeding, weaving in and out of traffic without signaling to change lanes, tailgating, driving on the shoulder or sidewalk, running red lights, and cutting other drivers off are some examples of aggressive driving that can cause a fatal accident.
Tips for Staying Safe on the Roads During Memorial Day Weekend
If you are one of the many Americans planning to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, you can help make sure your trip is a safe one by following these tips:
- Leave plenty of time to get to your destination: there is no greater irritation than sitting in a traffic jam watching the minutes tick by, knowing you are running late. Avoid the stress of the worst holiday traffic by leaving early in the morning to beat the crowds. When you plan your trip allow enough time for account for congested roads.
- Prepare your vehicle: the last thing you want is for your car to break down on a busy highway. If you know you will be traveling for Memorial Day have your car checked out well beforehand. Oil, transmission and brake fluid levels should be inspected as well as the tire treads and pressure. Always have safety equipment in your trunk like a first aid kit, a flashlight, flares, a blanket, and safety triangles. Carry extra batteries, cell phone chargers, and jumper cables just in case.
- Avoid distracted driving: put your cell phone away while driving. Texts and calls can wait until you have arrived or are taking a break. If possible, designate someone else to attend to children during the trip. And be sure to program the navigation system, music, etc. before you start the engine.
- Start your trip well rested: get lots of sleep before your trip to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. Stay hydrated and keep healthy snacks on hand to keep your energy up during the drive. If you cannot concentrate on the road ahead and feel yourself getting sleepy, pull over and take a power nap.
- Designate a driver: never ever get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Have a friend drive, take a cab, or wait until you are sober.
Liability in a Car Accident in New Jersey
New Jersey is a “no-fault state,” which means that regardless of who caused the accident, a claim must first be filed with your own personal injury protection to recover compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Under certain circumstances, the driver whose negligent behavior caused the accident may be liable for damages. In cases where fault lies clearly with one driver a claim for compensation may be made and their insurance carrier will have to cover your medical bills, vehicle damage, lost wages, etc. If you were partially responsible for the accident the rule of “modified comparative fault” determines how much compensation you can receive.
Modified comparative fault means that the jury will be asked to calculate the amount of damages you should be paid and also what percentage of fault you share for the accident. Perhaps the other driver failed to yield the right of way, but you were also speeding at the time of the crash. If the jury determines you were 20 percent responsible and awards you $10,000 in damages, the amount you will receive is the total award minus your share of fault or $8,000 ($10,000 minus 20 percent or $2,000).
If you think you may be eligible for compensation for injuries suffered in a car crash caused by another driver’s negligence the statute of limitations in New Jersey is two years from the date of the accident. The limit is applied very strictly with very few exceptions. Consulting with an experienced car accident attorney can help ensure that you meet legal deadlines when filing your claim.
Highland Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of Harold J. Gerr Fight for Compensation for Injured Accident Victims
Our experienced Highland Park car accident lawyers at the Law Office of Harold J. Gerr will investigate your case and fight to get you the maximum compensation allowed under the law. Call us today at 877-249-4600 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. From our offices in Highland Park, New Jersey we represent injured car accident victims in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.