What are Some Driving Tips for a Safe Labor Day Holiday?August 16, 2021
Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest times of year on roads across the United States. And with travel restrictions lifting and things continuing to open up, this year should be no exception. But all of that extra traffic comes at a price.
During one recent Labor Day weekend, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 376 car crash fatalities, with the majority of those being drivers. A closer look at the accidents that holiday weekend showed more than one-third of deceased drivers were under the influence of alcohol, and many of those drunk drivers were young, between the ages of 21 and 24.
Drunk driving is not the only danger facing travelers this Labor Day weekend. This discussion explores common holiday travel risks and steps every driver can take to stay safe and prevent accidents.
Avoid Aggressive Driving
Traffic jams bring out the worst in people. Most drivers will admit to muttering some choice words under their breath after another driver has cut them off or turned suddenly in front of them without signaling. But it is so important to keep one’s cool while driving.
The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as when: An individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.
The most common forms of aggressive driving include:
- Erratic lane changing
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to obey traffic signs and signals
- Improper following
- Improper turning
- Passing where prohibited
- Failure to signal
Not only does aggressive driving increase the risk of a traffic accident, but also anyone found guilty of aggressive driving in Maryland is subject to costly fines and several points on their driver’s license.
Buckle Up Before Every Trip
There is no disputing the fact that seat belts save lives. They also help prevent serious personal injury in many cases. The NHTSA reports that in a single year, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives. And in 2019, nearly half of passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic accidents were not wearing seat belts. Air bags are simply not enough to protect against catastrophic injuries. They can actually do more harm than good for unrestrained passengers involved in an accident. Therefore, it is important to buckle up this Labor Day weekend and before each and every trip.
Many Labor Day weekend celebrations will include alcoholic beverages. But drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who share the road count on every driver to be sober.
It only takes a small amount of alcohol to affect motor skills, reaction time, and decision making. The safest driver is the one who has not had a single alcoholic drink in the hours before driving. Therefore, when attending this year’s Labor Day picnics and barbecues, it is best to plan ahead and schedule a rideshare service. Another wise choice is to decide which friend or family member is going to be the designated driver and turn the keys over to them.
Defensive driving is a set of skills that enables a driver to anticipate and defend against collisions caused by careless drivers, bad weather, and road hazards. A defensive driver never assumes the other driver is going to make good decisions. They are prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Defensive drivers continually scan around them, check their mirrors, maintain a safe speed, and follow three to four seconds behind the car ahead. They always have enough space and time to react to any situation. Defensive driving will be especially useful over Labor Day weekend when drivers are more likely to be overtired, drunk, or distracted.
Limit Nighttime Driving
Because nearly four out of every five fatal car accidents during Labor Day weekend happens at night, it makes sense to avoid driving between sunrise to sunset, if possible. Because of reduced visibility and drunk drivers, night driving always comes with added risk. When mapping out a holiday road trip, motorists should plan to do the majority of the driving during the daytime to reduce the chance of being involved in a car wreck.
Rest Up before Hitting the Road
Drowsy driving is a serious problem in the United States. People drive drowsy for many reasons. They may have undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders or be affected by medications or alcohol. Or they may just not have slept well the night before. During a holiday weekend with parties, picnics, and long beach days, the chance of coming in contact with a drowsy driver is high.
Drowsy driving affects the body in many of the same ways as alcohol and drugs. It impairs coordination, decision making, and reaction time. When a driver cannot keep their eyes open, keeps yawing, or finds themselves drifting off, it is time to pull over to a safe location and get some rest.
Schedule a Tune-Up
Taking steps to make sure a vehicle is in good working order is another important way to ensure a Labor Day road trip is uneventful. It is always a good idea to protect one’s investment and prevent breakdowns by scheduling routine vehicle maintenance appointments. An extra tune-up before a long trip is recommended to make sure brakes, tires, and other equipment can withstand high temperatures and heavy traffic.
Skip Peak Traffic Times
Labor Day weekend drivers may want to avoid peak traffic times to lower their risk of an accident. People hoping to jumpstart their holiday weekend tend to hit the road in the early afternoon to early evening on Friday. Another high traffic time is late Sunday or Monday night as people are returning home from vacations and parties. If possible, drivers should try to leave early in the morning, between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., or in the late afternoon just before rush hour for a smoother and safer ride.
Today’s drivers are fortunate to have a range of helpful programs and apps to make their drive easier and safer. Waze and Google Maps are two popular apps that keep drivers updated on real-time traffic patterns, accidents, and construction. It is important to preset the app before leaving and use the voice setting when driving. Or when traveling with another person, the driver can let the passenger handle the technology so that the driver can focus on the road.
What to Do after a Labor Day Weekend Car Wreck
Even when a driver takes all the necessary steps to be as responsible, they are still at the mercy of the drivers and pedestrians sharing the road. Should an unfortunate traffic accident occur, the following steps can be used to stay safe, prevent further injuries, and preserve evidence from the scene:
- Assess the scene: Look for injuries to the driver, passengers, or anyone else at the scene.
- Call for help: Call 911 and wait for help. Never move someone who may be injured.
- File a police report: Explain what happened to the police. Avoid conjecture and do not accept blame. Simply state the facts.
- Exchange information: Exchange contact information, including name, phone number, email, address, and insurance information with other drivers. If witnesses are present, collect their information as well.
- Document the scene: Take photos or video of the scene, including damage to vehicles or property and weather conditions or roadway hazards that may have contributed to the accident.
- See a doctor: Even if one’s injuries do not require immediate medical help at the accident scene, anyone involved in a crash should get a full medical check-up to rule out delayed or invisible injuries.
- Contact a lawyer: Before reaching out to any insurance company, it is best to consult with a lawyer and learn one’s rights and responsibilities after an accident.
After a long and difficult pandemic, most people are looking forward to making memories and sending out summer on a good note this September. But before venturing out over the Labor Day weekend, drivers should be mindful of these common accident risks and take the proper steps to drive safely this holiday.
Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Work Tirelessly to Protect the Rights of Injured Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a traffic accident, the Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help. We will review every detail of your case and gather all the necessary evidence to build the strongest claim possible. Our goal is to prove liability and recover the compensation you deserve for medical pills, pain and suffering, and lost income. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.