Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest driving holidays, with traffic clogging roadways across the country. People often use Labor Day weekend as a final break before summer ends. Whether you’re heading to a nearby beach to picnic and swim with friends or driving to a huge family get-together for some grilling and fun, Labor Day weekend is an exciting mini-holiday for most. An estimated 35.5 million Americans took to the roads in 2015, according to AAA Travel. With so many people traveling, many of them by car, a lot can go wrong, ranging from minor fender-benders to multiple-vehicle accidents. Knowing Labor Day traffic safety tips can help you and your loved ones stay safe and enjoy the summer.
Six Summer Holiday Traffic Tips
1. Pre-Trip Car Maintenance: One of the simplest ways to avoid causing a traffic accident is to get your own car regularly maintained. A tire failure can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, and breaking down on a busy highway can be just as dangerous. So, inspecting your vehicle is especially important before a long trip. Get your car checked by an automotive professional for any problems such as short car battery life, damage to belts and hoses, etc. Check your tires, coolant and engine oil as well. Coolant should be mixed with water in a 50/50 ratio, and at the correct level. Check the level of your engine oil as well, keeping in mind that extreme heat or pulling a heavy trailer can impact oil levels. Tires should be inspected for balding or punctures. If you’re unsure of how to check your tires, have an automotive technician look for you. A bit of prevention is well worth it.
2. Pack an Emergency Kit: For any long road travel, an emergency kit is an excellent resource to have at hand. They often include: a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a cellphone with a car charger, a large or many bottles of drinking water, battery cables (also known as jump cables), emergency flares and/or reflectors as well as extra food portions for all travelers and pets. It may seem silly to take so much, but you’ll greatly appreciate you took the time to pack an emergency kit if you ever need it.
3. Leave Early: While millions of people are getting out on the roads for Labor Day, many of them like to sleep in. Use this to your advantage and leave a little early to avoid some of the madness. This is also true on your return trip. After the weekend, many people will be tired, sunburned, hungover, or even tipsy. Try to avoid being on the same road as them by heading back a little before the end of day, when everyone else will be packing up. As for yourself, be careful to stay hydrated and aware while driving, especially in heavy traffic. If you become drowsy while driving, pull over to the side of the road for a rest, rehydration or to switch with a more capable driver.
4. Take Breaks: Depending on when you leave and how long you’re going to drive, chances are that you’ll spend quite a few hours behind the wheel. Stay alert by taking a break every 100 miles or two hours, as recommended by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Taking that break can reduce fatigue while helping to stretch constrained muscles. While taking a break, make sure to never leave a child or pet unattended in the vehicle. The Florida DHSMV reports that the summer heat can increase the car’s internal temperature by 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. This is a critical factor for children travelling in cars. Body temperature in children can rise 3-5x faster than adults. In Florida, 84 child heatstroke fatalities have occurred since 1998, more than any other state except Texas, according to Florida’s DHSMV. Make sure to take plenty of breaks and keep cool and hydrated with lots of water and air conditioning.
5. Get Enough Sleep: It may seem like driving all day and night to get to your destination is the most efficient way to maximize vacation time. However, according to AAA, driving after less than seven hours of sleep within a 24-hour period is correlated with elevated crash rates. It was also found that between 8.8%-9.5% of all crashes and 10.6%-10.8% of severe crashes reported to the police involved driver drowsiness. Driving while fatigued or drowsy can seriously impede reaction times just as impaired driving does, slowing your ability to respond in the case of traffic or an emergency. Get enough sleep to keep yourself well-rested and alert for the journey and fun ahead.
6. Ridesharing: Not everyone is driving on Labor Day. Rideshare options are on the rise across the country. Uber and Lyft are efficient, inexpensive and convenient modes of transportation which offer the comfort of getting you from A to B without any hassle, not to mention plentiful air-conditioning. However, there are a few rideshare safety tips you should know, such as checking the display, checking the vehicle, assessing the driver and buckling up. To learn more about those tips and more about Uber and Lyft rideshare safety, check out Browning Law Firm’s Florida Uber and Lyft Safety Tips You Need To Know.