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The Safest and Most Dangerous States to Travel for Memorial Day

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Memorial Day weekend is a great time to get out of town and enjoy the warmer weather. If you’re planning on driving to your vacation spot, you should keep in mind that Memorial Day is one of the most dangerous holidays of the year for driving. But how dangerous it is might depend on where you travel.

Our team looked at fatal car crash statistics between 2013 and 2017 to determine which states were the safest and most dangerous for Memorial Day driving.

The safest and most dangerous states for Memorial Day travel

10 safest states for Memorial Day travel

RankStateTotal Memorial Day crashes per 100,000 people
1Maine0.30
2New York0.32
3Illinois0.37
4New Hampshire0.38
5Iowa0.38
6New Jersey0.39
7Minnesota0.40
8Washington0.40
9California0.41
10Maryland0.42
Rank
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State Total Memorial Day crashes per 100,000 people
Maine 0.30
New York 0.32
Illinois 0.37
New Hampshire 0.38
Iowa 0.38
New Jersey 0.39
Minnesota 0.40
Washington 0.40
California 0.41
Maryland 0.42

10 most dangerous states for Memorial Day travel

RankStateTotal Memorial Day crashes per 100,000 people
1West Virginia 1.30
2Mississippi1.24
3North Dakota1.19
4South Dakota1.05
5Delaware1.04
6South Carolina1.02
7Alaska0.95
8Idaho0.91
9Louisiana0.88
10Wyoming0.85
Rank
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State Total Memorial Day crashes per 100,000 people
West Virginia 1.30
Mississippi 1.24
North Dakota 1.19
South Dakota 1.05
Delaware 1.04
South Carolina 1.02
Alaska 0.95
Idaho 0.91
Louisiana 0.88
Wyoming 0.85

Key findings

Memorial Day is the third-most-dangerous holiday for travel

Based on our data, Memorial Day was the third-deadliest holiday for car travel over the few years we analyzed, with 1,819 fatal car accidents. The Fourth of July was first with 2,151 fatal crashes, and Labor Day was second with 1,903 deadly accidents.

Maine is the safest state to drive on Memorial Day

Not only did Maine have the lowest number of fatal car crashes over Memorial Day weekend but it also had the lowest rate of fatal accidents per 100,000 population, making it by far the safest state for driving on Memorial Day.

West Virginia is the most dangerous state for Memorial Day travel

West Virginia accounted for 24 fatal accidents on Memorial Day. While that’s not the highest total by state, it’s the highest rate of fatal accidents (1.3) per 100,000 population. If you’re traveling in West Virginia this Memorial Day, take a look at some of our tips below to make sure you and your family stay safe on the roads.

Maine is more dangerous during the month of May

Although Maine ranks as the safest state for Memorial Day travel, it’s in the bottom half of the safest states for the whole month of May. During the month of May, Maine is the 35th most dangerous state for driving with 5.34 deaths per 100,000 population.

Alaska is safer in May but more dangerous during Memorial Day

Alaska is the seventh-most-dangerous state to drive during Memorial Day weekend, but for the rest of May, it’s actually the 20th safest state for driving.

Safe driving tips for Memorial Day

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Take care when driving at night

When you drive at night you’re more likely to encounter impaired drivers, so try to plan the bulk of your driving during the day. If you do have to drive at night, be extra cautious around other drivers.

Slow down

Speeding gives you less time to react if something like an accident occurs in front of you. Slow down and give yourself more time and space to react to anything happening on the roads.

Drive defensively

Keep some extra distance from other drivers and anticipate having to make sudden maneuvers. You shouldn’t tail slow drivers, and you should let aggressive drivers pass. If you come upon any erratic drivers, drive like they can’t see you and keep an exit strategy in mind.

Don’t drive impaired

This should be obvious, but do not drive if you’ve had too much to drink. Plan for someone to be the designated driver if you need to drive on Memorial Day. If you’ve been drinking and you don’t have a designated driver, call a Lyft or Uber. Alcohol greatly increases your risk for car accidents, so it’s best to approach it with a zero tolerance policy.

Wear a seatbelt

Make sure everyone in the car is buckled up whenever you’re driving. It’s such a simple task that greatly reduces your risk for serious injury or death on the road. In fact, 47% of fatal crashes in 2017 occurred when the victim wasn’t using a seat belt.

Methodology

Our team looked at fatal car crashes between 2013 and 2017 in every state during Memorial Day weekend using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). From there we calculated the likelihood of a car accident per 100,000 people by state.

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