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Tolling Points

Stay Safe Out There This Labor Day Weekend

By: 
Bill Cramer

It’s an annual tradition in two parts.

Hundreds of millions of Americans hit the open road to mark the Labor Day weekend and the end of summer.

And, before they do, IBTTA (and many others in the surface transportation community) anticipate the event with a timely set of holiday safety tips.

It’s no mistake. Whatever else any transportation agency, company, or organization is about, wherever they might stand on the most pressing issues and opportunities of the day, everyone agrees that safety is Job One. For IBTTA and its members, providing safe and reliable mobility to customers and goods to their destinations, conveniently and on time, is our goal. Safety and planning are the foundation that makes that promise possible.

A Record No One Should Want

Last year at this time, the National Safety Council was predicting that nearly 50,000 Americans would be a part of a record that no one should want to set.

The Itasca, Illinois-based organization estimated that 421 Americans could be killed on the roads during Labor Day 2017, and a mind-bending 48,400 could be injured seriously enough to require medical attention—the country’s highest level of highway carnage since 2008.

"Many families will use Labor Day weekend to make their final summer memories before kids return to school," National Safety Council (NSC) President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a release. "We want that last hurrah to be fun, not fatal. When you are on the roads, be alert and drive defensively—making smart decisions could be the difference between a relaxing long weekend and one spent in the emergency room."

The NSC followed up its estimate with a solid to-do list for Labor Day highway safety:

And a Few More Tips

In Owings Mills, Maryland, meanwhile, the Elite Driving School has a few more tips for anyone who plans to arrive alive at the end of their Labor Day journey.

“Labor Day Weekend is a party weekend,” the school states. “Every year, auto accidents are expected to spike over Labor Day, and every year, those predictions are fulfilled.” So “exercising a little bit of extra caution over those two days would be well-advised.”

The website recommends planning trips well—not just by planning your route, but by anticipating everything you’ll need.

“The less time you spend on the road, the less you risk suffering an accident,” the school states. “What you do not want to do is drive to the grocery store to pick up supplies for your barbecue, remember you forgot the A-1 sauce and drive back, and then drive back again for the punch mix.” In a similar vein, “if you’re spending the day somewhere nice, try to get there in the morning, and leave after rush hour but before the bars close.”

The site covers vehicle tune-ups, designated drivers, and taking care not to consume any alcohol until you’re done driving. The school also comes up with some interesting advice about taking it easy over a weekend that is meant to be enjoyed.

“The whole point of Labor Day weekend is to relax, right?” the school reminds its readers. “So don’t stress out about your party. If you’re out of paper plates, people can eat off napkins. If you run out of beer, you can call it a night early on. Driving while stressed can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, so take care of preparations before the weekend begins, if possible, and don’t get into the car if you’re feeling anxious or under pressure.”

So as we say each year…stay safe out there. Make sure your tires are inflated, and the flashlights and emergency blankets are in the trunk. Map your route in advance, and plan to use a toll road for a hopefully more direct route, safer, stress-free ride.

Transportation professionals know there are no “accidents”, only collisions, injuries and deaths that could have been prevented. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, and don’t forget that we do want to see you back here next week!

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