Though roughly one third of all deadly crashes take place during the summer months, more than 80% of Americans think that winter is the most dangerous time to be on the road, according to the results of a new poll conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Excellence in Rural Safety. And, not only are there more deadly accidents on the roads during the summer but the combination of weekend traffic, crowding on rural roads and holiday drinking have often contributed to making the Fourth of July the deadliest driving day of the year. As study author Tom Horan said in statement about the survey findings, “Americans’ sense of seasonal driving risk is skewed… We are wary of winter driving, but let our guard down during summer holidays, when fatalities are most likely to occur.”
What’s more, though only roughly one fifth of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, nearly 60% of deadly crashes take place on roads classified as rural — likely because lower levels of traffic (and, likely more sparse police monitoring) can give drivers a false sense of confidence and promote dangerous driving behaviors like excessive speed and drunk driving. And, because rural roads often cross territory far from large medical facilities, emergency response may be delayed as well, decreasing the chances of surviving a crash. So whether you’re taking to the back roads or the major highways this holiday, be sure to use additional caution — the only flashing lights you want to see this weekend are the Fourth of July fireworks.