Summertime is the perfect time to be cruising down the highway or back roads on your motorcycle. It can also be a deadly time, especially over those three beloved summer holidays – Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of combined motorcyclist fatalities for the three summer holidays in 2016 totaled 269. That same combined number for three winter holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve/Day – totaled only 43.

So why the spike in motorcyclist fatalities in the summertime?

Increased traffic

You’re not the only one out on those roads during those holidays. Your friends and neighbors are traveling to their favorite vacation spot, or to a friend’s cabin for the weekend. And as traffic in general increases, so does your chance of becoming the victim of an accident.

Drinking and riding

You might guess that there would be more alcohol-related fatalities on New Year’s Eve, but that’s not the case. Long weekends of food and drink often lead to impaired driving.

Alcohol can affect your ability to ride your motorcycle in a number of ways:

  • You don’t recognize a potential hazard as quickly as you should
  • You misjudge your speed and distance when coming to a stop
  • You fail to safely navigate a curve in the road

And here are two interesting alcohol-related statistics to think about:

  • Motorcycle riders who were involved in a fatal crash at night were there times more likely to be impaired by alcohol.
  • Sixty-five percent of motorcyclists that were killed in a crash – but had no alcohol in their system – were wearing helmets, compared to only fifty percent of the alcohol-impaired riders.

Pennsylvania revamps motorcycle training

The Pennsylvania Depart of Transportation (PennDOT) recently revamped its motorcycle training program. The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program is free to all licensed riders, and is designed to help keep the almost 850,000 licensed motorcyclists in the state safe.

Motorcycle safety is a priority for PennDOT. Last year alone, 192 motorcyclists were killed and 3,321 injured in the state of Pennsylvania.

If you plan to be out on the roads on your motorcycle on any holiday, keep these statistics in mind – and make smart choices, so you don’t become one of those statistics.