Think Columbus Day presents a big problem in terms of car accidents? Unfortunately, Columbus Day is not just deadly in terms of car accidents – in the year 2009 it was the deadliest holiday weekend of all. Believe it or not, that year more people died on Georgia roads over the Columbus Day holiday than died over the New Year’s Eve holiday. Here in Georgia, we have got to take this holiday weekend seriously.
As a car crash attorney, I talk to grieving families and seriously injured people all the time. Several months back, I started researching Georgia car accidents in order to see whether I could spot any patterns about when, how and where car accidents happen. My hope is that if we can figure out the trouble spots, then maybe we can make Georgia roads safer.
When I did my research in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (“FARS”) database maintained by the federal government, I was stunned to learn that Columbus Day was so dangerous. Over that weekend in 2009, 22 people died in 19 different fatal auto collisions here in Georgia. That number is not only large, it actually is the largest for any holiday weekend of the whole year. The combined total of people who were killed in car crashes over the New Year’s Eve and Day and surrounding period was 17. Eighteen people died in car accidents over the Fourth of July. Seventeen more people were killed in car crashes on Georgia roads on Memorial Day. But the single, deadliest holiday of the entire year was Columbus Day.
The number of deaths in 2008 was much smaller. Over the Columbus Day weekend, ten people died in 9 car accidents that occurred here in Georgia. That year more people were killed over Christmas (when 25 people lost their lives in 25 fatal car collisions), Thanksgiving (when 18 people were killed in 17 different auto wrecks around the state of Georgia), and on Independence Day (when 21 people died in 16 separate fatal car accidents).
Still, the number of people who died in Columbus Day traffic is sobering. And these deadly car accidents did not happen just in the metro Atlanta area. Over the 2009 Columbus Day holiday, people were killed all over the State: in Macon County, Peach County, Houston County, and Madison County, to give just some examples. People were killed in Fort Valley, Georgia, Macon, Georgia, and Centerville, Georgia, and other cities around our state.
For years I have avoided driving on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I have been cautious every time I got in the car over the Fourth of July. I thought about Memorial Day and Labor Day, and knew those could be dangerous times for driving.
But never, in all my years of driving, had I even considered the thought that Columbus Day might be particularly dangerous for drivers, passengers and pedestrians. My guess is that I’m not alone.
But the truth is that the car wrecks and Columbus Day do go together. So be extra, extra, extra careful this weekend. Remember that it is a holiday weekend, that people are traveling, and that some people may be DUI because they are drinking and driving.