While most people in Illinois and throughout the midwest generally welcome the onset of summer with open arms, the reality of the danger that may await them should not be overlooked. Warm temperatures, sunny days, school breaks and more cannot prevent the fact that the summer holiday weekends, too many innocent people die in motor vehicle accidents.
Value Penguin reviewed data over a five-year period from 2011 to 2015 to see just how dangerous these holiday weekends really are. In this timeframe, the average three-day period saw 250 people die in vehicle crashes and 29.2 percent of the deaths occurred in drunk driving crashes. Over New Year’s holidays, 245 deaths were noted. In contrast, the weekends spanning Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day saw 312, 307 and 308 vehicular fatalities, respectively.
Alcohol was a stated factor in more than 40 percent of the deaths on Memorial Day weekends, more than 38 percent on Fourth of July weekends and more than 36 percent on Labor Day weekends. To compare, the New Year’s holidays saw 35.8 percent of deaths happen in crashes involving alcohol.
Detailed records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that in 2016, the state of Illinois saw a big jump in the number of people killed in automotive accidents. In 2015, there were 998 statewide vehicular fatalities. The following year, there were 1,082 such deaths. This was the highest number of people killed in car crashes in Illinois in a single year since 2007. Cook County was the location of 270 of the state’s auto deaths in 2016. DuPage County was the location of another 36 deaths.