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AAA: August is deadliest month on U.S. highways

Wednesday - 8/10/2011, 1:38pm  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Planning a last vacation this summer? Keep in mind that August is the deadliest month on the road.

AAA Mid-Atlantic warns more people are killed on America's highways in August than at any other time of the year. Millions are on the highway in hot and unpredictable weather, with families often packed into cars.

That's "a recipe for disaster if you are less than cautious behind the wheel," says AAA's John Townsend. "That is especially true in the Washington metro area, where you have a proverbial August recess."

Five of the deadliest days of the year on U.S. roads are in August. An average of 123 people die each year on Aug. 3, the fourth-deadliest day of the year. Aug. 6 averages nearly 121 deaths, Aug. 4 averages 119.6 deaths, Aug. 31 averages 119.5 deaths and Aug. 11 averages 118 deaths. The deadliest day of the year is New Year's Day, when an average of 132 people die on the nation's highways.

The lowest rate of fatal accidents occurs each February.

AAA's August warning comes as Arlington County has received the unique distinction of being listed as the safest place to drive in the whole country.

Wayne Wentz, Arlington County's chief of transportation and engineering, says part of the reason may be the county's emphasis on transportation alternatives to cars.

"People have many different ways of making the trips they need to make," says Wentz. "We for the last dozen years have seen a very consistent reduction in crashes".

Arlington County averages less than one traffic fatality a year for every 100,000 people. Those statistics do not include pedestrian fatalities, or fatalities on I-395 and I-66 as they run through the county.

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