Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and with the holiday comes an increase in travel. The National Safety Council is urging drivers to exercise caution, saying over 400 may be killed this year during Memorial Day weekend. The organization also estimates that nearly 46,000 could be seriously injured during the three-day holiday period.
Memorial Day weekend officially begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 25th, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 28th.
In general, summer can be a risky season of travel with July 4th often being billed as the most dangerous holiday. When compared to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, the three summertime holidays – Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day – typically claim over 110 lives each day, the highest average per-day fatality rates.
“Memorial Day should mark the start of summer – not a deadly driving season,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, President and CEO of the National Safety Council. “If we pay attention, slow down and be courteous, we can increase our chances of making it to picnics, beaches, and barbecues rather than emergency rooms.”
Dangers of Distraction
Distracted driving is among the leading causes of traffic accidents today with texting and driving being one of the primary culprits. Motorists may think “just glancing” at their phone is okay, but even that can prove fatal.
“This inattention, no matter how slight, can endanger the driver, passengers, and innocent bystanders,” explained Special First Lieutenant and Traffic Safety Specialist Jim Flegel of the Michigan State Police. “The sad part is that 100 percent of crashes related to distracted driving are preventable.”
Advice & Insight
The National Safety Council is encouraging everyone this weekend to buckle up, drive defensively, and to get plenty of sleep before traveling. At events where alcohol is involved, the National Safety Council says finding alternative transportation or designating a sober driver is the best protocol. The Michigan State Police continue to warn the public on the dangers of drugged driving.
“We have done a pretty good job of educating the public about not getting behind the wheel when you’re impaired on alcohol, but the word is still not out yet about making sure you do not get behind the wheel when you are impaired on any other drugs,” Flegel said. “And that also includes prescription medication.”
The National Safety Council has provided additional information about Memorial Day weekend, including fatality estimates and motor vehicle data and research. The Michigan State Police have provided a few key safety tips, which are listed below.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.
Safety Tips From The Michigan State Police
Abide by all traffic laws and posted signs.
Pay attention behind the wheel at all times.
Remove all distractions in the car, including cell phones.
Allow for plenty of time when crossing a street or intersection.
Use sidewalks whenever available and never cross the street mid-block.
Always stop at the edge of a parked car, curb, or vehicle before walking out into traffic.
Wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight when walking at night or during the early morning.