Trends in recent years have indicated that a significant percentage of weekend traffic is recreational and that the proportion of weekend trips is increasing. The "energy crisis" in late 1973, and the associated reduction in speed limit on March 1, 1974, affected weekend travel. A previous study by the Division of Research revealed that significant reductions in the number and rates of highway accidents, fatalities, and injuries coincided with the period of time generally referred to as the "energy crisis". Lower speeds were considered to be a primary factor in the reduction of accidents. An alteration in weekend and holiday trips was suspected of contributing to the reduction of accident rates; however, information was lacking from which to make this determination. A comparison of accidents during weekday, weekend, and holiday periods was made; most of the data were for rural sections of two-lane roads, four-lane roads, interstate routes, and toll roads.

On rural roads, the largest number of accidents have occurred on Saturdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Tuesdays generally had the lowest number of accidents. Fatal accidents on two-lane roads occurred in similar random patterns of distribution during the week. The highest rates for two-lane roads were on Sundays and Saturdays, and the rates for expressways (interstates and toll roads) were the highest on Sundays. Fatality rates were distributed similarly to the rates of all accidents.

The percentage of accidents on weekends decreased steadily from 35 in 1973 to 32 in 1976. likewise, the percentage of fatalities on weekends showed gradual decreases. Accident rates on weekends were substantially higher than on weekdays. Rates of fatal and an accidents were lower during holiday periods than during weekends not involving holidays. Holiday periods had fewer accidents per day than weekends but had more accidents per day than weekdays. Traffic volumes, however, were significantly greater during holidays than on either weekends or weekdays.

Report Date


Report Number

No. 546

Digital Object Identifier



Offered for publication to the Traffic Quarterly.