NSC estimates 398 people may be killed during the three-day holiday, but the goal is always zero deaths. Photo by Per Lööv on Unsplash

The National Safety Council urges Americans to drive defensively and designate a sober driver to help prevent about 398 deaths and another 45,300 serious injuries on U.S. roadways during the upcoming Labor Day holiday period. The Labor Day holiday begins at 6 p.m. Friday, August 30, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2.

The estimate is the lowest the Council has issued for the three-day Labor Day holiday period since 2015, mirroring an overall national trend that shows fatalities are down 3 percent through the first six months of 2019 compared with the same time frame last year.

"Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, and many families will travel for those last-minute vacations," said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "We want that last hurrah to be fun, not fatal. When you are on the roads, be alert, drive defensively and keep one another safe."

Alcohol often is a major factor in fatal crashes during holiday weekends, including Labor Day. In 2017—the most recent year for data—36 percent of fatal crashes involved an alcohol-impaired driver or motorcycle rider.

Tips for safer Labor Day travel include:

  1. Practice defensive driving. Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions.
  2. Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from cannabis and opioids.
  3. Stay engaged in teens' driving habits.
  4. Learn about your vehicle's safety systems and how to use them.
  5. Fix recalls immediately. Visit here to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall.
  6. Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways. The NSC State of Safety report shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws.
  7. Get involved in the Road to Zero Coalition, a group of over 900 organizations across the country focused on eliminating roadway deaths by 2050.

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