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[Study] Fatal Crashes Increase Sharply During Memorial Day Weekend in Utah

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is meant to be a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States. Memorial Day weekend, however, has long been synonymous with travel, BBQs, and unfortunately drinking and driving.

Nationally, Memorial Day weekend ranks as one of the deadliest holiday weekends on our nation’s roadways.  Drivers in Utah are not insulated from this risk.

In fact, we found that from 2013-2017, there were 18 fatal crashes during the Memorial Day weekend (defined as the four-day period from Friday to Monday) in Utah, a 27 percent increase over a typical four-day period.  Six of the 18 collisions involved at least one drunk driver.

Data Table:  All Crashes During Memorial Day Weekend

Year City Day Week Time Road Total Fatalities Drunk Drivers Involved
2013 Saint George Friday 5:36am I-15 2 0
2013 Ogden Friday 8:52pm US-89 1 0
2013 Utah County Sunday 7:33am SR-73 1 1
2013 Utah County Sunday 4:15pm US-189 1 0
2014 Draper Friday 8:03am 12650 S 1 0
2014 Clearfield Saturday 7:43am I-15 1 0
2015 Ogden Monday 6:53pm HIGHLAND BLVD 1 0
2015 Salt Lake County Saturday 2:02am SR-171 1 1
2015 Torrey Sunday 2:53am SR-24 1 1
2016 Vernal Friday 1:49pm US-40 1 0
2016 Cottonwood Monday 9:21pm WASATCH BLVD 1 2
2016 Cache County Sunday 10:33am SR-218 1 0
2016 Emery County Sunday 8:55pm GEORGE OLSEN ROAD 1 1
2017 Millard County Friday 12:13pm I-15 1 0
2017 Perry Friday 5:35pm US-89 1 0
2017 Summit County Saturday 12:10am US-40 1 0
2017 Fillmore Saturday 1:28am 2800 WEST 1 1
2017 Wasatch County Sunday 3:45pm SR-35 1 0

Fatal Crashes on Memorial Day by Year and Day of the Week

Data for 2018 has not yet been released, but 2017 saw the most fatal crashes (5) during the five year period that we analyzed.  Both 2016 and 2013 saw 4 fatal crashes during Memorial Day Weekend.

Be Safe This Memorial Day Weekend

While the risk of a fatal collision does increase during Memorial Day weekend, drivers and passengers can take steps to stay safe.

  • Avoid drinking and driving.  If you do plan on consuming alcohol, designate a driver or call for a safe ride.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals – especially speed limits.  Speed is a major factor in fatal crashes both in Utah and throughout the nation.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.  It’s simple, seatbelts save lives.  So buckle up.
  • Be attentive and refrain from engaging in distracting behaviors such as texting, using a handheld cell phone, eating, doing makeup, ect.
  • Adjust all mirrors to ensure that you can see the areas around your vehicle.
  • Passengers: Don’t get into a car with someone who has been drinking!


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