Alabama car crashes are expected to soar this Labor Day weekend, as traffic forecasters are predicting a surge in travelers this year, due to a brighter economy and cheaper gas prices.
Our Tuscaloosa injury lawyers understand that a new report from the American Automobile Association predicts a 4.2 percent spike in overall Labor Day holiday travel. Meanwhile, the National Safety Council is anticipating a nearly 6 percent increase in the number of Labor Day weekend fatalities on the roadway, from about 375 last year to nearly 400 this year.
About 56 percent of those, the NSC estimates, will be alcohol related (as compared to roughly 33 percent on any normal weekend). Of those, the majority of drivers are expected to be males, particularly those between the ages of 18 and 34.
Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Safety announced that during last year’s Labor Day weekend, there were six people killed in a total of six fatal car accidents statewide. One of those crashes involved a pedestrian, one a motorcyclist and the other an all-terrain vehicle rider.
That was down significantly from a year earlier in 2011, when 12 individuals were killed statewide in motor vehicle crashes over the long weekend. Labor Day travel is defined as Aug. 29 through Sept. 2. About 85 percent of those traveling will be driving personal vehicles.
Certainly, roadway congestion will contribute to an increase in traffic crashes. But that should in no way imply that such wrecks are inevitable.
For one thing, the NSC estimates that it could trim about 145 off its list of 400 fatalities this year if everyone buckled up.
Beyond that, of course, is the responsibility of every driver to refrain from drinking before getting behind the wheel. No one is insinuating that alcohol should be off-limits, but anyone who is planning to imbibe should arrange for either a sober driver or an alternative mode of transportation.
Another important safety practice for motorists – one that doesn’t often get as much media play – is ensuring you are well-rested. Sleepy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Given that the average Labor Day traveler is going to be driving nearly 600 miles round trip, this is an important consideration. At the very least, have another able driver in the vehicle with you who can trade off with you if you start to get tired.
Make sure you grant yourself more than enough time to get where you’re going. This will help eliminate the urge to speed, which is is a factor in far too many fatal crashes.
Finally, declare your vehicle distraction-free. Put your cell phone in an inaccessible location in the vehicle so you aren’t tempted. No dialing. No texting. No GPS searching – unless you are safely pulled to the shoulder, rest stop or some other off-the-road location.
Stay safe. Be responsible. And enjoy the long Labor Day weekend!
AAA Labor Day 2013 Travel Forecast, Aug. 20, 2013, American Automobile Association