According to the calendar, summer officially ends on Thursday, September 22nd, but most Americans consider Labor Day to be the unofficial end of the summer season. Kids go back to school, the leaves start to change color and the temperatures slowly start to fall, although it will continue to stay warm in Georgia for quite some time. Many travelers may be heading out on the road for one last getaway before summer’s unofficial end.
The increase of travelers on the road increases risk of car accidents for everyone making that last trip of the season. You can reduce the risk of being injured in a car accident by making safety a priority and keeping some important safety tips in mind. If you are involved in a car accident, a skilled car accident lawyer can address all your questions and concerns and assist you with every step of the claims process.
How Common Are Car Accidents Over Labor Day?
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), close to 400 people suffered fatal injuries in car accidents over the Labor Day holiday weekend in 2020. In addition to the tragic fatalities, serious car accidents also cause injuries that require immediate medical attention and hospitalization. Significantly more people are traveling to their end-of-summer holiday destinations this year compared to 2020 now that COVID restrictions are far less strict than they were two years ago. With more cars on the roads during the busy holiday weekend, the number of serious, and fatal accidents could increase this year if motorists engage in unsafe driving behavior, or fail to follow the rules of the road.
What Steps Can I Take to Prevent a Car Accident?
While safety should always be a priority, all motorists should use extra caution when driving over the busy Labor Day weekend. The following are examples of proactive steps you can take to avoid a serious car accident:
- Wear a seatbelt. While seatbelts do not prevent accidents from happening, they are one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent serious, potentially fatal injuries if you are involved in an accident. All passengers, including those sitting in the back seat, should always wear a seat belt. Children should be safely secured in a car seat that is appropriate for their height, weight, and age.
- Do not drink and drive. Drunk driving is one of the most common, yet preventable causes of serious, often fatal car accidents. Too often people drive home from a Labor Day party after consuming too much alcohol. Even a relatively small amount of alcohol can cause decreased coordination, slower reflexes, impaired vision, and slower reaction times. If you plan to consume alcohol, either pick a designated driver who agrees to stay sober or arrange for a ride home from a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft.
- Avoid distractions. When you are driving, put the phone somewhere out of reach so that you are not tempted to make a phone call, send a text, or check your social media accounts. Other common distractions that you should avoid include eating, reaching for something in the back seat, setting up the GPS, or interacting with other passengers in the vehicle. Keep in mind that it takes approximately five seconds to send or read a text message. If you are driving at a speed of 55 mph, having your eyes off the road for that amount of time is comparable to driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. A single moment of distraction can have devastating consequences if you hit another vehicle, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian.
- Avoid drowsy driving. Drowsy driving is another common cause of car accidents that can be prevented. Recognize the signs of drowsiness: excessive blinking and yawning, drifting out of your lane, hitting a rumble strip, or missing your exit. If you start to exhibit any of these symptoms, pull over to a safe spot and get some fresh air or grab a cup of coffee. If you are extremely fatigued, take a short nap while parked somewhere safe before getting back on the road.
- Make sure that your vehicle is in good working order. Before taking a long road trip, make an appointment with your local mechanic to ensure that your vehicle’s tires are properly aligned, and that they have the correct tire pressure. A mechanic should also check your vehicle’s brakes, transmission, and engine, and ensure that all necessary fluids are topped off, including wiper fluid, engine oil, power steering fluid, coolants, and transmission fluid.
- Plan your route. Even if you have a GPS system or rely on navigation apps for directions, familiarize yourself with your route before you hit the road. Too often, motorists who are unfamiliar with their route make sudden, unexpected lane changes where they end up cutting off other drivers and causing serious car accidents.
- Use caution when driving near large trucks. Large commercial trucks have blind spots, including at least 20 feet in front of the truck, approximately 30 feet behind the truck, and on both sides of the truck. The passenger side of the truck has a larger blind spot. Motorists are responsible for being aware of a truck’s blind spots and making sure that they avoid them. One tip to keep in mind is that if you cannot see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you. Never cut in front of a large truck as they require significantly more road space to slow down or come to a complete stop.
- Avoid driving when traffic is heaviest. If possible, travel during off hours when fewer people are on the roads to avoid traffic and accidents. That may mean leaving very early in the morning, or at night when the peak traffic has slowed down. Check for traffic updates so that you are aware of any accidents, road closures, or other delays that could cause heavier traffic and increase the risk of an accident during the holiday weekend.
- Avoid driving late at night. Most fatal car accidents that occur over Labor Day happen at night, so you should avoid driving from sunset to sunrise if possible. In addition to the fact that you are more likely to be drowsy when driving at night, there are also more drunk drivers on the roads at night, particularly during a holiday weekend.
- Do not tailgate. Tailgating increases the risk of rear-end accidents, as well as multi-vehicle car accidents if you are tailgating on a busy highway. Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the car or truck in front of you and increase the following distance during inclement weather.
- Be a defensive driver. Take reasonable, proactive steps to prevent a car accident: check the weather before you even start your trip. Plan your route in advance. Check your side and rearview mirrors regularly, scan the road ahead for possible hazards and adjust your speed and following distance, especially when traffic is heavy.
- Obey the rules of the road. Obey the posted speed limit, yield to the right of way, use your signals properly and check your blind spots before changing lanes.
- Keep an emergency safety kit in your vehicle. Like wearing a seat belt, this will not prevent a car accident, but it will ensure that you have immediate access to some important items while you wait for help to arrive. An emergency kit should include bottled water, non-perishable snacks, a flashlight, extra batteries, blankets, dry clothes, jumper cables, and a first-aid kit.
Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Victims of Labor Day Car Accidents
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a car accident over the Labor Day holiday weekend, it is in your best interest to contact our Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-205-6248 or contact us online. With our offices located in Springfield, Georgia, we proudly serve all clients of Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.