May 17, 2022
Is It Dangerous to Drive Memorial Day Weekend?
Memorial Day weekend is approaching, marking the unofficial start of summer and a long weekend filled with all the warm-weather activities the season has to offer. Many Pennsylvanians have road trips planned for the holiday weekend, but motorists should be aware that more traffic means a higher chance of accidents.
Last year, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimated more than 400 people perished on highways across the country during Memorial Day weekend. That estimate is likely to be higher this year, as COVID-19 restrictions ease and more Americans venture out to spend time with family and friends.
Research shows accidents are more likely to occur over Memorial Day weekend than any other holiday, followed by Labor Day Weekend and Fourth of July weekend. Keep reading to learn why accidents are more common this time of year and what you can do to avoid a crash and have a safe holiday weekend this year.
Why Are Car Accidents More Common During Memorial Day Weekend?
Why is Memorial Day, a minor summer holiday compared to other summer family holidays like the Fourth of July and Father’s Day, more dangerous for road-going accidents than any other? Here are the leading causes of traffic accidents that occur during Memorial Day weekend.
- Heavy Traffic: Nearly 40 million Americans will travel more than an average 50 miles each over Memorial Day weekend according to the AAA Foundation. More vehicles on the road means more opportunities for accidents.
- Aggressive Driving: The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR)found a rise in drivers running red lights over Memorial Day weekend. This is just one of many aggressive driving habits that increase the risk of accidents. Drivers who speed, tailgate, brake-check, turn or switch lanes without signaling are more likely to be involved in accidents.
- Drowsy Driving: Long drives can be physically and mentally exhausting. Someone who has not had sufficient sleep can experience body and mind changes that make it unsafe to operate a vehicle. Sleep deprivation can affect decision-making, risk-taking, reaction time, and coordination in ways that compromise safety and lead to accidents.
- Drunk Driving: Many Memorial Day picnics and cookouts include alcoholic beverages. Despite the fact that Pennsylvania has a legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08 percent, it is possible for drivers to have impairment with lower BAC. With a BAC of 0.02 percent, a person has difficulty performing two tasks at the same time. If that person is behind the wheel, the results can be devastating.
Preventing Traffic Accidents This Memorial Day Weekend
Now that we have covered some of the major factors leading to Memorial Day weekend car accidents, let us look at practical steps drivers can take to prevent them.
Service Your Vehicle
Routine maintenance is essential for keeping your vehicle operating safely and efficiently. Between service appointments and before any road trip, it is a good idea to check your vehicle for issues. Check tires for excess wear and proper inflation. Make sure windshield wipers are working and blades are free of rips or tears. Top off fluids and clean mirrors and lights.
2. Plan Your Route
Check local traffic and weather updates to avoid construction, heavy traffic, detours, and other hazards. Many widely-used GPS systems alert users to accidents and delays so they can plan alternate routes. Also, be sure to let someone know when and where you are driving. If you do not arrive on time and lose signal service, they can notify authorities to look for you and your vehicle.
3. Leave Early
Drivers who are in a hurry are more likely to speed and take other unnecessary risks. Give yourself more time to reach your destination so you do not feel anxious or rushed. It will make for a more relaxing and enjoyable Memorial Day road trip.
4. Do Not Drink and Drive
Despite state legal BAC limits, there really is no “safe” amount of alcohol that is safe for driving. If you plan to drink alcohol, Make arrangements for a friend who is not drinking to drive home. You can also call a rideshare service or stay put until you have sobered up.
5. Get Enough Rest
Be sure to get enough sleep the night before a long drive. If you find yourself yawning frequently, missing turns or exits, or nodding off for “microsleeps,” pull over to a safe location and get some rest.
6. Be Patient
Driving on a holiday weekend can make even the most patient drivers lose their cool. But that can lead to speeding, tailgating, and other aggressive behaviors. If you are frustrated or impatient, take a few deep breaths, listen to calming music, or pull over to regroup.
7. Pack an Emergency Kit
Summer in Pennsylvania can bring extreme temperatures. Excess heat can be dangerous for stranded motorists. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case your vehicle becomes disabled or is involved in an accident. Emergency supplies include fresh water, non-perishable snacks, a basic first-aid kit, flares or warning triangles, and blankets or towels.
What To Do After a Memorial Day Car Accident?
While these are all great tips to avoid accidents this Memorial Day weekend, the reality is, crashes are not always preventable. Knowing what to do after a car accident can help you stay calm, get help, and preserve important evidence if you decide to file a claim.
After any type of motor vehicle accident, your safety should be your first priority. Check yourself for injuries and assess others at the scene. If you can, pull off the road to safety to avoid a secondary collision. If you or anyone else is seriously injured, call 911.
When police arrive, carefully and clearly explain what happened. Stick to the facts and avoid accepting blame for the crash. Liability will be determined after reviewing the evidence. If you noticed the other driver acted carelessly before the accident, be sure to mention this to the responding officer. Tell them if you noticed the other driver swerving, speeding, or using their phone, for example. These details are important and can help police determine how and why the crash occurred.
Next, exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. If anyone witnessed the accident, take their information as well. Finally, take time to document the accident scene. Take photos of the crash location and damage to vehicles and other property.
If the accident is serious or you have been injured, it is wise to contact a personal injury attorney for guidance on the next steps to take.
It is common for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to propose a quick settlement to the accident victim. But insurance companies are in business to profit. It is in their interest to pay out as little as possible. That often translates into limited compensation for an injured party’s medical bills, property loss, and other damages.
A skilled attorney advises accident victims of their rights and responsibilities and the best course of action to take to recover their losses. In cases of extreme negligence and/or catastrophic injuries, litigation may be advised.
Summer does not have to start with a “bang.” Follow our safe driving tips for an accident-free Memorial Day Weekend. If you are injured in a crash that was not your fault, take comfort in knowing help is available. An experienced personal injury lawyer can guide you through the claim process and pursue compensation, so you can focus on your recovery.
Montgomery County Car Accident Lawyer at Anthony C. Gagliano, III, Esq., P.C., Fights for Injured Clients Across Pennsylvania
For the past 15 years, Montgomery County car accident lawyer at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. has been assisting injury victims find justice after devastating car accidents. Call 267-861-7100 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. With offices in Philadelphia and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Anthony and his team proudly serve Norristown, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County, and the surrounding areas.