How Can I Stay Safe if I Plan on Traveling for Easter?April 5, 2022
The Easter holiday is approaching and for many families, that means a spring break road trip to see family and friends, or to get some well-deserved rest and relaxation. If you are hitting the road this spring, be proactive about safe driving to avoid car accidents and prevent serious crash injuries.
Easter celebrations also mean a high volume of motor vehicle traffic on highways across the nation. One study of crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) determined Easter weekend ranked fourth for fatal car accidents behind Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Fourth of July. For drunk driving fatal crashes, Easter weekend was third among all major holidays.
If you plan on driving this Easter weekend, here are some friendly reminders to help make your trip safe and enjoyable.
Spring break and Easter are prime times for road trips. Whether you are heading to the next town, or embarking on a multi-state adventure, be mindful that traffic may be heavier than usual. Plan your route ahead of time to avoid surprises.
Road construction, detours, and other changes in traffic patterns add time and miles to your trip. Consider avoiding notoriously busy interstates for a less stressful drive along the scenic route. Your trip may take a bit longer as a result, but it may be worth it if you can avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic and impatient motorists.
The National Safety Council reports that drowsy driving accounts for 100,000 vehicle accidents, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities every year in this country. Driving long distances over spring break can be mentally and physically exhausting. Sleep deprivation impacts vision, reaction time, decision-making, coordination.
Do these side effects sound familiar? If so, that is because the effects of sleeplessness are similar to those caused by alcohol impairment. In fact, impairment for someone who goes 18 hours without sleep is similar to that of a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent.
If you are driving this Easter and notice you are missing turns and exits, having trouble keeping your eyes open, or are veering out of your lane, wait for a safe opportunity to pull over and get some rest.
Wearing your seat belt each and every time you are in a moving vehicle is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect yourself during a crash.
In a collision, a passenger who does not wear their seat belt is thirty times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle. An ejected person is twenty times more likely to be killed than someone who remains inside the vehicle in a crash.
But it is not enough just to “buckle up,” you must also wear the seat belt as intended. A lap and shoulder belt should fit snugly, not too loose or too constrictive. The shoulder harness should be worn across the chest and shoulder with little, if any, slack. It should never be worked under the arm or behind the back.
The lap belt should lie low across the hips once it is fastened. For information on proper seats and restraints for younger passengers, visit the NHTSA website for guidelines based on height and weight.
Put Down the Phone
Distraction-related crashes claimed more than 3,000 lives in a single year according to NHTSA data. While many distracted driving accidents involve a driver using their mobile phone, technology is not the only thing keeping drivers from paying attention.
Distractions fall into three categories:
- Cognitive Distractions: daydreaming or thinking about something other than driving, when the mind wanders away from the task of driving.
- Manual Distractions: eating, grooming, or any other task where the driver takes their hands off the wheel.
- Visual Distractions: looking at a phone, the dashboard touch screen, another passenger, or anything that diverts the driver’s eyes from the road.
Texting on a mobile phone is particularly dangerous because this task involves all three types of distractions. Because hands-free calls are a cognitive distraction, they are just as risky. Make a point to put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” every time you get behind the wheel to avoid becoming another distracted driving accident statistic this Easter.
Drunk driving is another hazard facing drivers over Easter and spring break. In Maryland, drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher are considered alcohol-impaired.
Maryland has sobriety checkpoints and other means of detecting drunk drivers. If you are caught driving impaired, the consequences are steep. A first offense potentially brings up to $1,000 in fines and up to a year in jail. Your license can be revoked for up to six months and you may rack up 12 points on your license.
It is a common misconception that “buzzed” driving is okay as long as the driver is not drunk. Even small amounts of alcohol affect a person’s coordination, reaction time, and decision-making. Instead of taking a risk that endangers you and those around you, plan ahead for safe and sober transportation if you intend to consume alcohol this Easter.
Maintain Your Vehicle
Nothing ruins an Easter holiday or spring getaway like a tire blowout or engine troubles. Keep up with routine maintenance appointments to keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely. After all, an equipment problem is not just inconvenient. It can be dangerous if your vehicle malfunctions in traffic.
Car maintenance checklist:
- Check the fluids.
- Test the lights.
- Check the windshield wipers.
- Have brakes professionally tested.
- Checks belts and hoses.
- Change the oil.
- Inspect tire tread and inflation.
Prepare for Emergencies
Before your Easter drive, take some time to pack an emergency kit in case your vehicle breaks down or you are involved in an accident. In your kit, include non-perishable snacks and fresh water.
Your safety kit should also contain a flashlight and extra batteries, jumper cables, flares or reflective warning triangles, and a basic first aid kit. If you drive in an area that sees cool weather, add warm blankets, hats, and gloves to your emergency pack.
Before any drive far from home, be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you plan to arrive in case you get lost, have an accident, or lose cell service.
Keep these safe driving tips in mind when you hit the road this spring and all year long to reduce your chance of a devastating car accident and life-changing injuries. If you are involved in a crash caused by another driver, contact a personal injury attorney for legal guidance.
Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Work Hard to Protect Those Injured in Accidents
A car accident is stressful, especially if one happens when you are traveling. If your life has been changed by a negligent driver, contact one of our skilled Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for legal guidance. Call 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent clients 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.