Actually, probably not. Bellingham is better known for rain and rhodies than beach volleyball and bikinis. But a study found that popular spring break vacation spots share an uptick in traffic fatalities during the last week of February through the first week of April.
The study examined fatal car accidents at 14 favorite spring break hot spots in seven states: Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Weekly death tolls jumped a whopping 9% during spring break. The wrecks were significantly higher for out-of-towners and younger motorists as well.
Surprisingly, no significant statistical difference showed up in fatalities involving drunk or high drivers and deadly wrecks than wrecks where those involved were sober. Factors that might have indicated distracted drivers weren’t included in the study, it seems. But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to put together the risk factors: a car full of college students, as many cell phones, and unfamiliar streets and traffic patterns. Plus a plethora of what used to be called “Kodak moments” when selfies were just a twinkle in electronic engineers’ eyes.
The tourism industry loves spring break, as it is a moneymaker for restaurants and hotels before the summer season begins. How could cities maintain their reputations as great vacation destinations for college students while keeping their guests and locals safe? Simple things like offering vouchers for cabs, rideshares, and taxis could go a long way to help spring breakers avoid getting behind the wheel and focus on having fun. Win win.