As Labor Day weekend symbolically brings summer to an end, there will be many people on the road heading out for one last summer getaway. The long weekend means heavy traffic statewide.
King 5 News reports an increase in traffic deaths nationwide in 2016. Washington state is no exception, with traffic fatalities up 8% in the first half of the year from the same period in 2015. Given these alarming statistics, King 5 News projects that if the trend continues, this could be the country's deadliest Labor Day driving weekend since 2008.
King 5 cites more statistics, including numbers of fatalities and serious injuries. These numbers were derived from the National Safety Council. Please see the article for details. Speculation about why the increase in traffic fatalities includes a number of ideas. Distracted driving and lower gas prices putting more drivers on the road are among the theories.
Washington State hopes to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injury collisions by 2030, under the Target Zero Plan. Our prior blog post describes Seattle's Vision Zero plan, which is a portion of the statewide effort. These latest trends, however, unfortunately show things moving in the wrong direction.
Dellino Law Group wishes you an enjoyable Labor Day weekend and urges you to drive safely. Please use these tips to maximize the safety of yourself and your passengers, and to decrease the stress of driving this holiday weekend.
- Don't drink and drive. Labor Day weekend is notorious for BBQs and parties, where alcohol is a common part of the equation. As everyone is out celebrating this weekend, we encourage you to drink responsibly and choose a designated driver. Keep yourself and those around you safe.
- Make sure the car is properly maintained and in good shape for travel.
- Map your route out ahead of time when possible. Have a plan and be aware of alternate routes.
- Buckle up! Ensure you and your passengers are properly restrained in seat belts and car safety seats.
- Avoid fatigue. Get a good night sleep the night before, take regular breaks, and share the driving if possible. If you are tired, pull off the road to a rest area.
- Have an emergency plan. Have a cell phone and charger with you so it can be used in case of an emergency. Keep the contact information for emergency roadside assistance handy.
- Do not text while driving and minimize cell phone use in order to keep your full attention on the road. Utilize a hands-free device if you need to use your cell phone. See our prior blog post for details about cell phone and texting while driving laws in Washington State.
- Keep a safe following distance, allowing for ample time to react to the traffic around you. If someone is tailgating you, allow them to pass. Don't try to compete with impatient and aggressive drivers.
- Watch your speed. Drive to the conditions and don't drive over the speed limit. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going so you are not in a rush.
- Remain calm. If you feel stressed or irritable, take some deep breaths and stay calm. Don't drive with road rage – This compromises the safety of yourself and the people around you.