Memorial Day holiday travel may be especially busy this year. National auto insurer AAA reports that hotel bookings are about double what they were a year ago, which means many more motorists driving to holiday destinations.
Data from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Commission (NHTSA) says Memorial Day weekend is the deadliest of all holidays. NHTSA averaged the total deaths per holiday over a three day period over a number of years and determined that the deadliest driving holidays and their respective average number of deaths are:
The National Safety Council (NSC) predicts up to 500 deaths and about 48,000 injuries due to car accidents over the Memorial Day weekend this year. The NSC says the holiday weekend starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 27, and concludes at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 30.
With Memorial Day weekend posing significant risks to the safety of drivers and their passengers, the following tips should help you to drive safely if you intend to travel far to celebrate the holiday and the unofficial start of summer.
Your vehicle must be in good running condition for your travels to be as safe as possible. Tires and brakes are especially important to ensure good traction and safe stops.
You should inspect the tires and make sure they are at the suggested air pressures and have good tread for traction. If the wheels and tires are due for a balance and rotation service, you could do that prior to the holiday weekend to help make the ride better in all kinds of weather.
You should check to ensure the brake pads are in good condition and have plenty of friction material to stop safely. Installing new brake pads and bleeding the brake lines as needed will help you to keep your vehicle under control and come to safe stops.
You should replace the wiper blades if they are worn and fill the washer fluid reservoir, which will help to keep your vision clear while driving in the rain and wipe away any debris that might cling to the windshield.
Make sure all of your lights and turn signals are working. If any are faulty, you should replace them as needed to make sure other drivers can see you and you can see the road at night.
The NSC says drivers and passengers significantly can reduce their chances of dying in an accident by wearing a seatbelt. Buckling up can cut the odds of a deadly accident in half and help to prevent serious injuries to your or your passengers.
If you intend to travel with small children aboard, you should install a child safety seat for each one. The seat needs to be installed properly to protect the child, and you need to secure the child correctly for child safety seats to work as intended.
You might have to switch off the passenger airbag to prevent injury to small children or elderly adults. A small child does not have the neck strength to safely withstand the blow delivered by airbag deployment. The same goes for many elderly adults who might be smaller in stature.
It also is important for drivers to turn off their cellphones and limit potential distractions. That will help to prevent distracted driving that is a significant factor in accidents. Any passengers that you might have with you can handle any incoming or outgoing phone calls or messages that need to be addressed.
Lots of people will be driving an hour or more to reach their holiday destinations. If you are among them, you should expect the trip to take much longer than normal.
With construction season underway, many popular routes will be affected by orange cones and slow-moving traffic. That will slow down traffic even while the road crews are off for the holiday weekend.
You could plan ahead by searching online for road construction reports and learn where construction zones are located along your intended route. You might plan alternate routes around the construction zones to avoid them.
There is no reason to hurry during a holiday. Your destination always will be there and arriving later than planned should cause no harm.
The most obvious way to improve safety over Memorial Day weekend is to avoid drinking and driving. The NSC shows that alcohol-impaired drivers account for about 38 percent of all accident fatalities on Memorial Day weekend.
By comparison, drunk driving accounts for about 28 percent of road fatalities on non-holiday weekends. So drinking and driving is an especially significant factor in traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths throughout Memorial Day weekend.
You certainly are allowed to enjoy adult beverages while celebrating the holiday. But you should do so only when you are at a location where you will be long enough to sober up and drive safely.
If you plan to go to any bars or attend parties or other gatherings where alcohol is served, you should have a designated driver. A taxicab or ride-hailing service also is a good alternative to drinking and driving.
A busy holiday weekend could leave you feeling fatigued. Fatigued driving is very dangerous and could cause you to make driving errors that you would not while more alert.
If you spend a significant amount of time in the hot sun or are on the go from morning until night throughout the holiday, you could become very fatigued. A fatigued driver is a potential danger and especially prone to error while driving.
You need to make sure that you can get a good night’s sleep each evening and take some breaks during the day. If you try to stay busy throughout the weekend, you likely will be very tired while driving home. That could become very dangerous – especially if you drive while drowsy and cannot focus.
The experienced Delaware car accident lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A., can help you to hold negligent drivers liable for damages and injuries. You can call 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation are our law offices in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware. Our clients generally are located in Dover, New Castle County, Sussex County, and throughout Delaware.