Labor Day Weekend is so close you can probably already see yourself relaxing on the beach or having fun with family and friends. Many Americans travel by car or truck on big holiday weekends. In fact, Memorial Day Weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend are some of the most deadly days to be driving on city streets and interstates. A four-year study from 2011 to 2015 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered an average of 308 fatalities from auto accidents occur over Labor Day Weekend each year. So, if you’re planning a big weekend getaway, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for anything the long drive can throw at you.
Five Things to Do Before You Start the Car
There are several precautions you can take before you leave your driveway to ensure a safe road trip, including:
- Pack the Car Wisely: Whether it’s just you or your entire family, the luggage can build up in the backseat or trunk very quickly. As you load the vehicle, make sure you don’t block the line of sight for the driver. The driver needs to clearly see through the rearview mirror, the side mirrors and out the windows.
- Put the Necessities Within Reach: Depending on how far away your destination is, you’ll need to have easy access to the necessities such as a water bottle, a snack, tissues, etc. Once you’ve loaded up the car, put these things in your center console or somewhere within reach, so you don’t have to look away from the road to grab a drink. If this isn’t possible, you can ask the person in your passenger seat to help you.
- Give Your Kids Fun Activities: There are many kinds of driving distractions: visual, manual and cognitive. When your child in the backseat is upset or needs something, it’s dangerous to look away, even for just a second, to help them. Prepare a few activities (or movies if you have a portable DVD player) to keep your kids occupied so you can focus on driving safely.
- Put Your Phone Out of Reach: Text messages, social media updates, and phone calls are hard for some drivers to resist as they wait in traffic or cruise down the interstate. Remove this temptation by putting your phone in your glove box or even your trunk. If you have to make a call or let someone know how far away you are, you can do so when you stop for gas or a bathroom break.
- Tell Your Friends and Family You’re on Your Way: You’ll undoubtedly get phone calls and texts asking what time you plan to arrive or how far you are into your drive. You can avoid these unnecessary distractions by telling them you’re on your way and your estimated time of arrival. You can give them updates when you stop the car for breaks or have a passenger do it for you.
Additionally, don’t forget to make sure everyone has their seatbelt buckled.
Five Ways to Stay Safe & Avoid Auto Accidents
Labor Day Weekend auto accidents cause hundreds of deaths and many more injuries each year. You can prevent yourself from becoming part of this statistic by following these simple steps:
- Drive During Daylight: There are several benefits to traveling during daylight hours. You’re more alert and have more visibility so that you can see any upcoming changes in traffic. Driving at night may mean fewer cars are on the road, but the other drivers, especially commercial truck drivers, are more likely to be tired, which causes slower reactions to changing road conditions and they could fall asleep at the wheel, putting you and your family in severe danger.
- Take Frequent Breaks: If you’re traveling more than three or four hours away, you’ll need to take frequent breaks to make sure you’re awake and aware of your surroundings. This is a great time to fill up on gas, grab a snack and use the restroom. You could make it a fun event for your kids as well by stopping at a fun rest stop or restaurant.
- Switch Drivers if You Can: If there are two or more driver's-license-carrying adults in the car with you, give them the chance to drive. This will give you a much-needed break on long road trips and allows you to recharge, so you’re more alert when it’s your turn to drive again.
- Drive Cautiously and Be Aware of Other Drivers: The biggest danger on the road is other cars and commercial trucks. Distracted driving, particularly texting and driving, is an epidemic in America. You don’t know what the other drivers are doing, but you can watch for vehicles that are swerving consistently and avoid being near them on the highway. Additionally, substance abuse and drowsy driving are heavily prevalent among truck drivers, so be cautious when you are passing them or driving in the lane next to them.
- Be Prepared for Changes in Road Conditions and Construction Areas: The farther you drive, the more likely you are to run into construction or weather changes. Pay attention to the road signs as you drive and make sure you slow down to the adjusted speed limit as you drive between the cones. These are areas where vehicles and trucks are closer than normal, so keep your distance from other cars and watch for brake lights.
Our lawyers at Canter Law in South Florida hope you have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend, and remember to drive safely using the tips listed above.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, please call our attorneys in Boca Raton today at 561-447-4500for a FREE consultation. We serve clients throughout South Florida including Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Boynton Beach.