Independence Day is no time to forget about road safety, AAA warns. Today is the deadliest day of the year for American drivers, with an average 140 fatalities, and teenage drivers and their passengers account for nearly a tenth of those deaths, reports the Los Angeles Times. Road deaths in the US have dropped to their lowest level since 1949, but preliminary figures for last year show that the number of teens dying in car crashes has risen for the first time since 2003.
Traffic deaths surge on the 4th of July because schools and offices are shut and more people are on the road, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The institute's study of car crashes between 2006 and 2010 ranked Sept. 26 as the second-deadliest day, with an average 129 fatalities, and Aug. 2 the third-deadliest, with an average 125 deaths. A higher proportion of road deaths are caused by drunk drivers on the 4th of July than on a typical day, the institute says. MADD found that 39% of fatal crashes on this day in 2010 involved a drunk driver, up from a normal average of 31%.