When people think of Labor Day, they think of rest and relaxation, grilling out and having one last party before the summer comes to a close. However, most would not consider one of the largest party days of the year to be one of the deadliest days to drive. But it is. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Sunday before Labor Day is the 8th deadliest day to drive and Labor Day is the 9th deadliest day to drive.
If you're surprised to see that the Sunday before Labor Day is one of the top 10 deadliest days to drive, don't be. In fact, the NHTSA's 2005 study "Trend & Pattern Analysis of Highway Crash Fatality By Month & Day Technical Report," found that a number of days around the holidays are associated with higher fatality rates than the actual holiday itself. Why would this be the case? Many holiday celebrations start on the eve or weekend of the holiday. And because many people do not have to work the following day, these festivities typically include alcoholic beverages and late night hours.
The Labor Day weekend* is no exception. According to the NHTSA's "Traffic Safety Facts 2006 Report," 505 people were killed in automobile accidents during the 2006 Labor Day weekend, and 48 percent of those deaths were alcohol related. How could these deaths be avoided?
Alternative Labor Day Transportation Resources
If you plan to drink or host a party during the Labor Day weekend, plan to have some alternative transportation resources you or your guests can take advantage of. One of these resources is AAA's Tipsy Tow program. This program is offered to all people near participating AAA clubs free of charge. Under this program, anyone (members and non-members) that has had too much to drink can call AAA and get a free ride home for up to two people within a 15 mile radius. As part of the program, AAA will also tow your car home for free. To find out if this program is being offered in your area, contact your local AAA office.
Another good transportation resource is your local cab service. While this service is not free, it is one of the safest ways to get home if you have been drinking. If you're hosting a party, consider having the numbers of local cab companies available for guests who have had too much to drink. Planning ahead can not only help keep your loved ones safe, it can also help save lives!
Labor Day Weekend Trips
Alcohol consumption is not the only reason for fatalities during the Labor Day weekend. According to Drive for Life's "101 deadliest days on the road" report, major contributors to summer crashes also include failure to wear seat belts, improper use of child seats, car maintenance failures, speed, distractions, and fatigue.
During the long Labor Day weekend, families tend to drive to their weekend destination during the night while their children are sleeping, or in the evening after a full day of exhausting activities. Although it seems like driving tired is not that big of a deal, it is. The Drive for Life report noted that drowsiness contributed to the car accidents of 1.35 million drivers in the summer. The report also found that during the summer months, families with children were six times more likely to drive home from a day-long trip while fatigued than people without children. Of those families likely to drive home, 57 percent said they are likely to drive when fatigued in order to get home from a weekend getaway while 59 percent said they are likely to drive fatigued to get to a certain destination in one night.
If you're planning to travel this Labor Day weekend, make sure to get plenty of rest, pack snacks, books and car-safe activities for your children, don't rush to your destination, don't drink and drive, take your car in for a maintenance check, and remember to have your accident kit and car insurance card on hand.
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*(The NHTSA defines Labor Day weekend as starting at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 5:59 a.m. Tuesday.)
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Originally posted August 10, 2007.
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