Distracted driving

Road Risk Alert: The start of summer sees a surge in speeding and distracted driving

May 20, 2024

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer in the US. It also marks the start of what’s known as the 100 Deadliest Days — the period extending through Labor Day when nearly half of all US teen auto fatalities occur.

According to AAA, nearly 44 million people will hit the road for Memorial Day weekend this year, AAA’s second-highest forecast since 2020. With so many people driving during the holiday weekend, we wanted to look at the impact on road risk. As with so many other US holidays, we see a deadly rise in speeding and distraction on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a top 10 holiday for speeding, ranking the 7th worst holiday for speeding behind New Year’s Day. Two weeks before Memorial Day, drivers speed an average of 2 minutes and 44 seconds per hour. On Memorial Day, drivers spend 3 minutes and 32 seconds per hour rushing to get to their destinations — nearly a 30% spike.

CMT’s data reveals that Memorial Day is ranked as the 11th most distracted holiday of the year, with a 3.7% increase in distracted driving.

In the two weeks leading to Memorial Day weekend, CMT data shows that drivers interact with their screens for an average of 2 minutes and 13 seconds per driving hour. CMT defines screen interaction as when a driver taps on their phone’s screen while the vehicle is traveling over 9 mph.

On an average Memorial Day, drivers spend about 2 minutes and 18 seconds distracted on their phones per hour. That’s equivalent to listening to nearly 80% of Dua Lipa’s (2:56 minute) “Dance the Night” while driving distracted every hour. Not only do drivers use their phones for most of “Dance the Night” on Memorial Day, but nearly three in four trips include some form of screen interaction — 72.9%.

The consequences of this increase in distracted driving are fatal. CMT’s research shows that for every 10% increase in distracted driving, the fatality rate increases by 1.5%. We estimate the 3.7% increase in screen interaction during Memorial Day has caused an additional 500 crashes, 280 injuries, 2 fatalities, and $19.7 million in economic damage since 2020.

Kick off summer safely

As the 100 Deadliest Days begin and communities gear up for the first holiday of the summer, Memorial Day’s surge in speeding and distracted driving sends a clear and urgent message to everyone using the roads: stay focused, stay safe, and help make this summer a season free from driving tragedies.