For most American families, Memorial Day weekend is not just a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by our men and women in the Armed Forces but also a time to relax, light up the grill and celebrate the unofficial start of summer.
However, traveling on Memorial Day (and after the holiday) can be surprisingly scary. Even though the weekend is now in our rear-view mirror, you might find it helpful and eye-opening to review some critical statistics about the holiday and reflect on them as “summer driving season” is now upon us.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads released recently published a study that concluded that 3.7 Million Drivers Ran a Red Light in 2014, Majority of Which Occurred During Peak Summer Travel Periods. Here are some tips to help you and your family stay safe and avoid accidents:
- Plan out your routes ahead of time.
There is nothing wrong with using a GPS system to get from point A to point B. However, a lack of familiarity with your road route can lead to distraction, bad driving decisions and confusion. Look at the map, and game out your route, but also acknowledge your own needs and potential driving weaknesses. For instance, rest every few hours during long trips. Build those rest periods into your trip, so you’re not tempted to push yourself behind your driving comfort zone.
- Avoid driving distracted or while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances could make you a less effective driver.
Our blog – and thousands of other sources – have documented the dangers associated with these behaviors. Just because the start of summer is a more relaxed time does not mean you should stop being vigilant and careful behind the wheel.
- Be extra mindful of potentially dangerous drivers on the road.
Driving defensively is common sense backed up by good science. It’s particularly important to drive defensively when you know, statistically, that other dangerous drivers will be out there due to early summer travel. Consider increasing your following distance and being extra alert.
- Minimize the use of cellphones while you drive – even handheld cellphones.
Many otherwise educated drivers think that it’s okay to chat on the cellphone, as long as you are using a hands free device. However, research out of both the University of Utah and Virginia Tech has found that the dangers of cellphone use don’t decrease when you use a hands free headset. The real problem appears to be the mental distraction caused by talking on the phone remotely to another person.
Practice safe and defensive driving for a safer holiday travel season.