Known by many to be the unofficial ending of summer, Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest holidays of the year. Millions of families are prepping for the school year and may take to the road for one final summer vacation.
Labor Day weekend is one of the most dangerous weekends of the year for drivers. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that Labor Day weekend sees about 400 traffic-related fatalities every year, not to mention the tens of thousands of injuries. Nothing can ruin your holiday quite like a car accident, and with nearly 40 million travelers expected to take to the road this year, here are some Labor Day travelling tips to keep in mind:
- Buckle up: The safest thing you can do before any drive is to buckle up. Seat belts have proven over the past several decades that they have saved countless lives, and they very well may save yours too. This goes for all your passengers in the car; everyone, especially kids, should be in their appropriate seat or child seat and properly secured in. Studies have shown that seat belts are 45 percent more effective in preventing a fatal car accident for all front-seat occupants.
- Do not drink and drive: Drinking and driving is never okay and happens year-round, but because of the number of travelers and partyers on Labor Day weekend, it is an especially dangerous behavior. In recent years, drunk driving fatalities represented almost 30 percent of all traffic-related deaths. Even one alcoholic drink is enough to impair a driver and could cause fatigue, loss of focus, and slowed reaction times. If you plan on drinking on Labor Day weekend, be sure to have a designated driver or a ridesharing app ready to go home and do not drive. If you host a party at your house, make sure your guests can stay at your place or they have a designated driver ready as well. Furthermore, serve plenty of food and stop serving alcohol a few hours before the party ends.
- Limit distractions: Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the country, and with the meteoric rise of smartphones and wireless technology, it is seemingly getting worse every year. Have someone in the car hold the phone and use the GPS for you so you do not have to take your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel. Give the kids in the car headphones and tablets so they do not cause a distraction. Remember, any activity that takes your focus from driving is considered a distraction, even eating, and drinking and finding a good radio station. Limit all your distractions as much as possible.
- Plan ahead: Plan to leave at times when it is less busy. If you can, try to leave the Thursday before the weekend starts, or early Friday or Saturday morning between 5 am and 7 am. The deadliest time of the day is between the hours of 6 pm and midnight, so try to avoid being on the road at those times. In 2017, almost 80 percent of Labor Day fatalities occurred at night between sunset and sunrise. Plan your route ahead of time as well, as it can help you focus on driving if you know where you are instead of being confused and stressed because you do not know where you are. On your way home, plan on leaving on Tuesday or Monday before the afternoon rush hour.
- Maintain your vehicle: A good way to be safe on the holiday weekend is to make sure your car is safe as well. A mechanical failure at the wrong time can easily lead to an accident, so regularly maintaining your vehicle is the best way to prevent tires or brakes from failing. Have your oil changed at the correct interval and get your fluids topped off. Have your brakes and tires checked the condition of your hoses and belts, as well as your battery. Your car battery normally has the lifespan of about five years, so if it is around that time, replace it anyway.
- Drive defensively: Driving defensively generally means not to drive aggressively. Always obey traffic laws, especially the speed limit, as it is common to go above it without realizing it. Leave enough room between yourself and other vehicles to give yourself enough reaction time, and more room if the conditions are poor. Do not cut off larger vehicles, as they have a harder time to stop, and be aware and avoid their blind spots whenever possible.
- Emergency kit: Emergency kits are essential to have, especially when you plan on going on a long trip. Make sure your emergency kit has a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, enough drinking water, and jumper cables. You should also have emergency flares and reflectors, and non-perishable food in case you get stuck. Do not forget a phone charger.
- Rest up: Drowsy driving is one of the major factors in car accidents in the country. It is especially important to rest up before any long trip, as drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Drowsy or fatigued driving can severely reduce reaction times. If you are driving and start to feel tired, find a safe place to pull over and get some rest or take a break. A good rule of thumb is to take a break from driving every 100 miles or few hours and get out of the car and stretch your legs. That will help you wake up.
- Be patient: Give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go, and practice patience if you get stuck in traffic. Being stressed out or rushing will only lead to aggressive driving, and with the large number of travelers that will also be on the road, it would only lead to a disastrous situation. It is best to always be cautious and responsible whenever you are behind the wheel.
Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Accident Victims Injured on Labor Day Weekend
With the large number of travelers expected to be on the road, your chance of getting into a car accident could increase on Labor Day weekend. If you do get into an accident and are injured, contact the Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow right away. Our experienced team will protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (302) 427-9500 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.