Saturday, September 5th, is Labor Day. Americans have been celebrating the holiday since 1882. The holiday started with a parade intended to honor all of New York’s union members. Today, Americans think of the holiday as the informal end to summer and the return to the school year.
One unfortunate reality of holiday travel days is that they are among the most deadly on the calendar. According to IIHS,Late Summer and Early Fall months are the ones with the highest rate of fatal crashes. Labor day has a higher annual death rate on average than does Christmas or Thanksgiving. Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are sadly the highest weekends in terms of fatal accidents. NHTSA’s latest data is for 2019. On Labor Day in 2019 451 fatalities occurred. Let’s look at some facts to see if we can develop common-sense ways to protect our families when traveling on this day with remarkably high fatal crashes.
Don’t Drive On Labor Day
Want to avoid a crash on Labor Day? Stay home or stay at your vacation spot. It’s easy to say but hard to do if you are a worker and need to be at work on Monday, September 6th. The traffic on Labor Day is always among the worst returning from vacation areas. Plan your trip to avoid the heavy travel Monday.
Don’t Drink On Labor Day If Driving
It doesn’t take long to see what causes so many Labor day crashes. According to NHTSA, 38% of fatal crashes on Labor Day in 2019 were caused by alcohol. Some past Labor Days had a rate as high as 60% caused by alcohol. So, we need to avoid the drunks that are killing us on the road and not be one ourselves. But other than abstaining oneself, how?
Don’t Drive between 9 pm and 3 am on Labor Day Evening Or the Following Morning
Well, it turns out that alcohol-related fatalities show definite trends. Drunk Drivers kill themselves and others primarily between the hours of 9 pm and 3 am, according to police reports compiled by NHTSA. More than half of the deaths that occur on our roads from midnight to 3 am are due to alcohol. Avoid the drunks by being off the road when they are killing people.
Plan an event with your driving-age children for Labor day evening, or if possible, each evening on Labor Day. A “Keys in the bucket” policy will help ensure that no guests or your own family members are driving after drinking.
NHTSA says that between “..1960 and 2012, seat belts saved more lives—329,715, to be exact—than all other vehicle technologies combined, including airbags, energy-absorbing steering assemblies, and electronic stability control.” The group goes on to say, “In 2016, seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives. But nearly 2,500 more lives would have been saved if everyone had buckled up.” If there is one thing you can do to help survive a car crash other than staying off the road, it’s to just buckle up.
The end of summer approaches. Let’s make it a safe one.
Image of beach courtesy of IIHS.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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