Independence Day is the perfect time for get-togethers and cookouts—a time for celebration and catching up with those you haven’t seen recently. However, the week of July 4 is also one of the most dangerous weeks on the road, especially when the holiday falls on a weekday.

People may be more carefree in the summer months, but that laidback attitude shouldn’t translate onto the roadways. EverQuote analyzed data from the last twenty years to find accident fatality trends for when the Fourth of July falls on a weekday versus a weekend. The results are surprising.

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The Fourth of July is only a bad week for car fatalities when it falls on a weekday. If the holiday falls on a weekend, the number of fatal accidents is not very different from any other week in early summer. The charts below illustrate this, where orange represents deaths per week when July 4 falls on a weekend, and blue represents deaths per week when July 4 falls on a weekday.

deaths per week in early summer, averaged over last 20 years

Data source: The data is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s FARS and includes crash fatalities from 1995–2014.

The additional deaths during the week of July 4 (when it falls on a weekday) are almost all alcohol-related crashes. From this data, it appears that when drivers have an additional day to celebrate during the week, alcohol is involved and the car crash deaths increase. Alcohol is truly the killer during Independence Day celebrations.

This year, July 4 will fall on a Monday. Considering these fatality trends, maybe rethink any alcoholic beverages if you’ll be driving at all later in the day.

The Deadliest Days on the Road (Based on Crash Fatalities 2010–2014):

The Fourth of July is also considered the deadliest day on the road according to the most recent data released by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

As expected, holidays top the list of the most dangerous days on the road. More people are drinking alcohol on holidays, and are out on the roads traveling and driving distracted. However, there aren’t as many holidays in the top 5 deadliest days of the year as you might think.

  1. July 4 (Independence Day)

Yearly average: 118

  1. January 1 (New Year’s Day)

Yearly average: 118

  1. September 18

Yearly average: 110

  1. August 2

Yearly average: 108

  1. August 27

Yearly average: 108

Independence Day is deadlier than New Year’s Day by one fatality between 2010 to 2014.

How Can You Stay Safe?

Don’t be part of the statistic this Fourth of July. Be careful on the roads. Here are some tips to keep you safe.

Determine a Designated Driver

This Independence Day, determine a designated driver for your celebrations. You may think alcohol in the afternoon won’t affect your drive home, but the statistics show that is not the case. Determine a designated driver so everyone will arrive home safely.

slow driving yellow signDrive Defensively

All drivers should drive defensively every time they’re on the road. On average, over 100 people die in car accidents in the U.S. each day—but you can do your part to stay safe by focusing behind the wheel. Pay attention, communicate with other drivers and don’t get distracted by fellow passengers (they may be the most dangerous distraction).

Put Down the Phone

Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic. Don’t be part of the problem. Your texts, emails and Facebook updates can wait. Just drive.

Be Extra Vigilant

Be extra vigilant driving on the roads. Warmer weather means more drivers may be out. Don’t get distracted by your summer road trip plans. Follow the speed limit and don’t rush to your destination. It’s better to arrive late and alive than not at all.

Check Your Skills

Test yourself. See how safe of a driver you are with EverDrive. Other mobile apps will also block your cell phone from receiving messages or calls when you’re behind the wheel.

Upgrade Your Vehicle

Driver-assist technology will help you out behind the wheel. If you’re looking to upgrade your vehicle, this may be a great option for you. Backup cameras and blind spot monitors can prevent accidents and act as an extra set of eyes to warn you of potential collisions.

Happy Independence Day! Go enjoy the fireworks, BBQs and time well-spent. Just be sure to stay safe when you get behind the wheel.

Photo credits: Wikimedia