Memorial Day – for many of us, it’s the penultimate sign that summer is quickly approaching and one of the busiest travel times of the year. Given the lull in travel last year, this year, it means something more – a time to get out and travel as we reach the tail-end of an unprecedented global pandemic.
Whether you’re going to a barbeque, lake, beach or even just driving to the airport to catch your flight, odds are that you’re one of the projected 37 million Americans traveling for Memorial Day weekend.
With a surge in travel by car this year, specifically a 52 percent increase from 2020, vigilance on the roadways is needed now more than ever before.
The unofficial start to summer
Many people view Memorial Day as the unofficial start to summer – with such a title comes its burdens, as well. Historically, Memorial Day has been one of the deadliest United States holidays to drive, ranking first this year according to Value Penguin.
Studies done by the National Safety Council compared Memorial Day to holidays of similar length and found some startling statistics. Over the past six years, traffic deaths were 14 percent higher during Memorial Day weekend than traffic deaths of the comparison period.
As states begin to reopen and people feel more comfortable traveling, this Memorial Day runs the risk of being more deadly than those of the past. It doesn’t appear that anything, including the rising gas prices, will be able to slow down travel, either.
If you thought that those gas price increases due to the cyberattack were going to slow down travel, you’re sorely mistaken. While a fair assumption, travelers are stomaching the high gas prices that have recently hit an average price of $3 per gallon due in part to widespread vaccinations and a pent-up demand for travel.
So how are you planning to tackle the influx of travelers that will be sharing the roadways with you? We have three Memorial Day safe driving tips for you – enact these and stay as safe as possible!
3 Memorial Day safe driving tips
Plan ahead, plain and simple. Allowing yourself more time to travel will allow you to avoid getting stuck in high-traffic areas for long periods of time, keep you from performing maneuvers that can result in the harm of yourself or others brought on by a sense of urgency, and get safely from point A to point B.
Make sure that you have glanced at the route that you’re going to take. Find areas prior to leaving where you can stop for the restroom, snacks and, if bringing a furry friend, a good walk. With states and even towns enforcing different pandemic guidelines, know the precautions you need to follow in order to remain compliant.
Avoid distracted driving
It’s almost reflexive at this point to reach for your cell phone, but we would be remiss if we didn’t emphasize the need to bypass distracted driving as a temptation altogether. If looking at your cell phone, talking on the phone, attempting to change your GPS or music, you run the risk of putting yourself, and others, in harm’s way by partaking in distracted driving.
Get a great playlist put together prior to hitting the road. Time that playlist out so it matches the length of your trip. If needing for any reason to partake in conversation on the phone, do so with a hands-free device.
Buckle your seat belt
When getting into your car this Memorial Day weekend, make sure you buckle up, as it could end up saving your life. With the large number of alcohol-impaired drivers sharing the roadways with you, don’t skip the precautions that exist to keep you safe in the event of an incident.
According to the National Safety Council, seat belts are 45 percent effective in preventing fatalities and have the potential to save up to 164 lives this Memorial Day, based on the average number of people who wear seat belts. If everyone in the car chose to wear a seat belt, an additional 96 lives could be saved.
Be safe this Memorial Day weekend
Know that, while Memorial Day weekend represents the beginning of summer, it also can come at a cost. Remain vigilant when behind the wheel if choosing to travel this weekend and keep our three Memorial Day safe driving tips top of mind – you’ll keep yourself, your passengers and the roadways safer as a result.
For additional tips on how to prevent distracted driving year-round within your fleet of drivers, download our white paper, Distracted Driving – A Preventable Problem.