On Memorial Day, we honor the United States veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. Many families celebrate the holiday by making the first getaway of the season to visit friends and family. More than 8 out of 10 people travelling during the holiday weekend go by automobile.
With so many people on the road, Memorial Day is a holiday associated with many car accidents. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 382 motorists will lose their lives over the holiday weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 23 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 26.
In addition to the fatalities, the NSC predicts nearly 41,000 people will suffer injuries requiring medical care.
AAA predicts holiday travel this year will reach a new post-recession high, with 31.8 million motorists taking to the highways. With more vehicles on the road, the risk of being involved in a crash will rise along with traffic volumes. It is projected to be the highest volume since 2005—a year when 32 people died in traffic accidents in Georgia during the holiday weekend.
Last year, during Memorial Day weekend, the Georgia State Patrol investigated 650 crashes that caused six deaths and 366 injuries, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
The most effective way to stay safe and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend travel is to buckle up. Georgia State Troopers will be conducting roadside checks and high visibility patrols and focusing on seat belt violations as well as drunk drivers.
Studies show that seat belt use could save 139 lives over the holiday, according to the NSC. Sobriety also saves lives, and in towns and counties throughout Georgia and the rest of the United States law enforcement officers will be patrolling the roadways and setting up checkpoints to make sure motorists are not drinking and driving.
Leaving your cell phone out of sight will help you avoid the temptation of texting or making calls while driving.
Here are some tips to help keep you safe and your holiday weekend enjoyable:
- Wear your seatbelt, and make sure your passengers are buckled in too. Small children should be restrained in age-appropriate safety seats.
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Pay attention. Don’t text or make calls on your phone, and avoid other distractions such as reading maps, setting your GPS devices, eating and grooming when you are behind the wheel.
- Slow down and respect posted speed limits.
- Drive defensively. Pay attention to other motorists on the road and avoid erratic drivers.
- Don’t tailgate the vehicle in front of you.
- Make frequent stops and rotate drivers on long trips. If you are too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
- Be patient, and allow extra time for travel. Traffic will be heavy and there may be delays.
- Let someone know your travel plans and the time you expect to arrive at your destination.
Your summer vacation will get off to a good start if you practice safety on the road.