Even if students have already returned to school, many families see Labor Day weekend as a chance at one last blast of summer. Whether it is a musical escape to Branson or a camping trip to Cheney State Park, Kansas City residents hit the roads with the highest numbers of the summer over the first weekend in September. Unfortunately, this also means that they are more likely to be involved in a serious or even deadly car accident. Take the time to learn tips to stay safe this holiday weekend so that your summer doesn’t end in tragedy.
Dangerous Holiday Travel
While Labor Day weekend is not the deadliest travel weekend, it is still significantly more dangerous than other summer weekends. According to the National Safety Council the deadliest holidays in 2013 were as follows:
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- New Year’s Day
- Memorial Day
In most cases, the increase in the number of cars on the roads is the major contributing factor to the increase in traffic fatalities. A higher rate of impaired driving is also a factor in many fatal accidents on local roads. No matter what the cause, you can protect your family by taking a few simple steps before heading out.
Prepare Your Car for the Trip
Those pesky maintenance issues you’ve been putting off all summer should be taken care of before you head out this Labor Day weekend. Not only is a poorly maintained vehicle an unsafe vehicle, but the most dangerous place you can be on a highway is on the shoulder waiting for roadside assistance. Take these steps before packing up the car:
- Have the engine checked by a mechanic.
- Check and top off fluids, including radiator and windshield wiper fluids.
- Check tire pressure and inflate to recommended levels.
- Test steering and brake function.
- Pack an emergency kit, including jumper cables, flashlight, tire pressure gauge, tool kit, flares or cones, rags, and an emergency stop sign.
- Bring a first aid kit that includes water, blankets, energy bars, and other necessities in case you are stranded.
Drive Safely and Defensively
The risks of distracted or drowsy driving are higher on holiday weekends, especially on the return trip. Make sure you are in good shape to drive and if you are not, stay an extra day. Be aware that other drivers are likely to be engaging in dangerous behaviors and drive defensively. Some Labor Day driving don’ts include:
- Don’t drink and drive
- Don’t text and drive
- Don’t allow passengers to distract you with noise or bad behavior
- Don’t follow the car in front of you too closely
- Don’t cut other cars off in construction zones
Important driving do’s include:
- Do take frequent breaks to avoid drowsy driving
- Do change drivers when feeling tired or distracted
- Do avoid driving in semi trucks’ blind spots
- Do use a GPS to avoid getting lost
- Do stay calm and avoid vengeful driving
- Do wear a seatbelt and drive the speed limit
This is all commonsense advice, but when we drive long hours in heavy traffic, many of us forget these good-driving habits. When other drivers are careless, we often react in ways that endanger ourselves and our passengers.
Plan Ahead and Avoid Crowds
Allow plenty of time for your trip and avoid the busiest travel times. If you can leave on the Friday before Labor Day before rush hour traffic starts or later at night, you may have an easier time. Use your GPS to find alternate routes around traffic jams or simply pull off at an exit and take a break. Check for construction zones online before you leave and choose a scenic route if the main highway is under repair.
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