Nearly 790 people are expected to die and another 84,200 people to be injured in traffic crashes over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods.
The National Safety Council, which released the estimates Tuesday, said seat belts could save an estimated 288 lives.
The estimates come as the AAA expects more Americans to be traveling than ever this holiday season.
AAA on Tuesday released its holiday travel forecast, saying as many as 98.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season.
More than 90 percent, or about 89.5 million, people will be hitting the roads. About 5.7 million travelers will be flying, according to the AAA.
The year-end holiday period is defined as Dec. 23 through Jan. 4.
With Christmas and New Year’s falling on a Thursday, the National Safety Council has defined each holiday period as 4.25 days long, starting at 6 p.m. the Wednesday before to 11:59 p.m. the Sunday after.
The National Safety Council estimated that there will be 366 deaths and another 39,200 injuries requiring medical attention during the Christmas holiday period.
For the New Year’s holiday period, the safety council estimated there would be 421 deaths and 45,000 injuries.
The National Safety Council urged people to take extra precaution over the long four-day holiday periods.
It recommended that:
▪ People buckle up even when traveling short distances.
▪ Refrain from using electronic devices while driving.
▪ Secure children in proper safety seats.
▪ Do not drink and drive.
▪ Plan their trip and drive defensively, especially in bad weather.
▪ Plan regular stops and never drive while tired.
Robert A. Cronkleton, email@example.com