Hello summer. Memorial Day is here.
With the Memorial Day holiday, as we see on many holidays, people will travel. Whether it’s vacation or quick visits to friends and family, major holidays like this one are when the greatest number of people travel from here to there.
The number of travelers choosing to drive may be particularly high this Memorial Day when compared to past Memorial Day holidays. Lower gas prices combined with a general “fatigue” for flying from higher fares, new baggage fees, long security lines and increased flight delays have the AAA predicting that 89% of all travelers (31.2 million overall) will choose the automobile as their primary mode of travel this Memorial Day. This is up slightly from prior years.
When I was 16 and first started driving, I remember my parents always saying “drive safe”. People say it to each other all the time prior to getting into a car. It always struck me as a kind of useless thing to say, as if I would have not driven safely had you not made a specific request to the contrary.
Despite the fact that “be careful” and “drive safe” might seem to be simple common sense advice, it’s actually still helpful to hear it. Certainly, it can’t hurt. So, this is our “drive safe” message to friends, family and clients and some specific things to keep in mind if/when you head out in your car over the holiday weekend.
1. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol and driving is always a bad mix. According to NHTSA statistics, on average somewhere between 35-45% of driving fatalities during our biggest holiday periods are alcohol related. While we will never know what percentage of overall drivers on the road are intoxicated, it’s likely to be significantly lower than 35-45%. To think that such a high percentage of fatalities are alcohol related is indeed a sobering thought. Every day, nearly 30 people in the U.S. die in a motor-vehicle crash involving an alcohol-impaired driver. This is all well documented and there’s not a whole lot more to say about it. Don’t drink and drive.
2. Avoid driving during peak danger periods or be particularly careful when you do. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, between 9 pm and 6 am is the big danger zone where a much higher percentage of drivers on the road may be under the influence than compared to daytime hours.
3. Check that your tires are properly inflated, windshields are clear, wipers, lights and other equipment are all good and ready to go. Adjust your seat, mirrors and climate controls before putting the car in gear.
4. If you stop your car even briefly, never leave children or pets unattended.
5. To stay alert on your trip, get plenty of rest before you leave and keep yourself hydrated by bringing water with you.
6. Don’t speed − it gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident. Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to rush. Build time into your schedule to stop for food and run any other errands that need to be completed.
7. No distracted driving. Make sure you are hands free with your cell phone and GPS. No eating a sandwich, drinking coffee, combing your hair or applying makeup. Keep all of your attention on driving at all times. Some estimates have almost 80% of accidents related to distractions.
8. Be aware of what others around you are doing and always expect the unexpected. Practice defensive driving and give yourself time to react. Keep a 2-5 second cushion between you and the car in front of you and 5-10 seconds if the weather is bad. Rule of thumb is generally one car length distance from the car in front of you for every 10mph you are driving (four car lengths for 40mph, five for 50mph, etc).
9. Secure cargo that may move around while the vehicle is in motion. Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor. Have items needed within easy reach, such as toll fares, EZ Pass tags, water bottles, etc.
10. Wear your seat belt. Make sure all passengers are buckled up every time you get in the car. Make sure children are in age-appropriate safety seats.
Have a great weekend and be safe. As always, if you have any questions or need help with something, feel free to contact us.