Grim prediction: 488 crash victims this Labor Day

| 8/29/2003

The National Safety Council estimates 488 people will die and 25,400 people may suffer non-fatal injuries in motor vehicle crashes during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day weekend is historically bad for crashes. Over the last six years, there were 9.7 percent more deaths in crashes during Labor Day weekends than during the weekends immediately before and after Labor Day.

This year's estimate covers the 3 ¼-day Labor Day weekend from 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, through 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1.

"Our two principal concerns for the motoring public are seat belts and drunk driving," Alan McMillan, president of the National Safety Council, said. "As a society, we are making noteworthy strides in wearing seat belts, with nearly 75 percent of all Americans now wearing seat belts.

"However, more than 19,000 people who were not wearing seat belts died last year in motor vehicle crashes. About one-half of those people would have survived their crash had they been wearing seat belts."

NSC said that after several years of improvement in the 1990s in reducing drunken driving fatalities, the United States has seen three straight years of increases in drunken driving fatalities, with nearly 18,000 fatalities in crashes involving drunken drivers last year. Nearly 40 percent of all fatal vehicle crashes involve alcohol.