By: Donna Devita
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Last year, Connecticut troopers were out on the roads scouting for reckless drivers posing a threat to other motorists and pedestrians over Labor Day. In just one weekend, the Connecticut State Police recorded:
- 765 speeding tickets
- 31 seat belt violations
- 1,812 moving violations (texting, unsafe lane changes, tailgating)
- 36 DUI arrests
In addition to the thousands of violations, there were a total of 326 accidents reported resulting in 53 injuries and sadly, one road fatality.
Labor Day Weekend is Deadly On The Roads!
One road fatality in a single holiday weekend may not seem so bad, but without Connecticut troopers trolling the highways for dangerous drivers, the fatality rates would be far higher. Every Labor Day weekend, an average of 420 people die in road accidents across the country, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). High volumes of holiday travelers and an increase of reckless driving behaviors on the road have earned Labor Day a spot on the American Safety Council’s list of the six most dangerous holidays of the year and Connecticut residents should be alert and aware.
Thousands of Possible Injuries
In addition to hundreds of unnecessary deaths, over 40,000 injuries are reported by the NSC annually over Labor Day weekend. Ranging from minor to severe injuries, motorists, passengers, and pedestrians are at a higher risk of getting into a vehicle accident simply from being on the roads this holiday.
Physicians Now lists the top five most common types of motor vehicle injuries possible over Labor Day weekend, including:
- Neck: whiplash, ligament strains, and sprains, disc herniation
- Leg and Knee: cuts, bruises, broken bones, tearing, dislocation
- Broken Bones: hairline and compound fractures
- Back: spinal cord injuries, disc dislocations, chronic pain, loss of mobility
- Head: traumatic brain injuries, concussions, severe contusions, brain damage
Injuries sustained in a vehicle accident can be traumatizing and sometimes permanent. What’s even more devastating is most of these catastrophic injuries are highly preventable by avoiding these common Labor Day road hazards.
Drinking and driving over the holiday weekend is one of the most common reasons for the uptick in vehicle accidents and injuries around Labor Day. In an article published be Sobering Up, Labor Day was named the fourth deadliest holiday for drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 40% of all vehicle accidents over Labor Day weekend involve drivers under the influence, with 23% of these drivers exceeding the legal intoxication limit of .08.
Drunk driving increases over Labor Day weekend for a number of different reasons:
- Three day weekend.
- Last holiday before school begins.
- Increased parties to attend.
- Hot temperatures encouraging more drinks.
- Lack of work/school responsibilities.
- Teens drinking for the first time.
- Decreased supervision.
Alcohol can impair a number of vital driving functions including judgment, concentration, comprehension, visual accuracy, coordination, and reaction time. Any of these impairments can cause a driver to seriously injure or even kill another motorist in a matter of only a few seconds.
Millions of Americans will be traveling by car to get to their Labor Day weekend celebrations. Congested roads and traffic jams cause drivers to become aggravated and aggressive, pulling risky maneuvers that can put surrounding cars at risk of an accident.
DMV.org lists the most common reckless driving behaviors that increase over holiday weekends as:
- Erratic changing of lanes
- Running stop signs and traffic lights
- Running over curbs
- Wrong way driving
- Weaving through traffic
- Failing to use a turn signal
Reckless driving behaviors run rampant on holiday weekends because they are contagious. No one likes to be stuck in traffic and hours of road congestion can take a serious mental toll on motorists. Drivers are more likely to mimic reckless and aggressive behaviors of the vehicles around them if it seems they might get to where they need to go just a little quicker.
Distracted and Fatigued Drivers
Drunk drivers are not the only motorists on the road posing a fatal threat to Connecticut residents this Labor Day:
Distracted Drivers: Distractions severely increase over holiday weekends and it’s causing drivers to lose control and injure others. Cellphones, rowdy passengers, loud music, and other electronic devices can easily take a drivers eyes off the road. These distractions under normal road conditions are already extremely dangerous, but under holiday road conditions, with millions of travelers out and about, you can almost guarantee a disastrous outcome.
Fatigued Drivers: Vacationers returning from a long weekend are exhausted and most likely traveling at night. Fatigued drivers suffer many of the same impairments behind the wheel as drunk drivers, with the same increased chances of causing serious and fatal injuries. The NSC reports that nearly 50% of adult drivers across the country have reported driving when feeling too tired…and 40% of them have done it more than once!
Many teen drivers get their licenses over the summer. Unfortunately, even by the end of the season, their inexperience and poor judgment on the roads still lead to an increase in traffic deaths- at least 10 road fatalities a day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. AAA calls this period the ‘100 deadliest days’, where fatal traffic accidents involving teen drivers raise about 14% compared to the rest of the year.
Teens are three times more likely to cause a vehicle accident than adult drivers due to increased risky driving behaviors such as:
- drinking and driving
- neglecting seat belts
- lack of supervision
- cellphone use
- poor judgment
Labor Day is the perfect opportunity for high schoolers to let loose before school begins and often times the first opportunity for college students to experience campus drinking parties. Teen drivers are much more likely to get behind the wheel when extremely tired or even after a few drinks, often lacking the ability to sense the dangers of their decisions until it’s too late.
Staying Safe on CT Roads
Labor Day road hazards can be terrifying for travelers but drivers can take a number of safety measures to ease their worries regarding the increased risks of holiday vehicle accidents. EHS Today suggests using these travel safety tips to keep your family safe on the road this weekend:
- Prepare your vehicle: Avoid any unnecessary car drama by making sure your vehicle is ready for your trip. Checking the fluids, wipers, and other small maintenance needs can prevent you from ending up on the side of the road with the possibility of getting struck by reckless drivers.
- Watch out for trucks: Tractor-trailers can cause serious damage to passenger vehicles on the roads. Don’t pull risky maneuvers around large trucks who may or may not be able to see you coming.
- Use alternate routes: Using a GPS to avoid congested roads can help you avoid a number of aggressive and reckless drivers pulling dangerous moves on congested routes.
- Drive in the day: Staying on your vacation as late as possible may seem like a good idea, but your risks of getting into an accident are higher when driving at night. NSC reports most traffic accidents occur between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am, exactly when most risky holiday drivers are on the road home.
- Know your route: Planning your route ahead of time can prevent a number of accidents caused by quick lane changes, missed highways exits, and other risky road maneuvers.
Drivers on the road this Labor Day can also stay safe by monitoring their own driving behaviors throughout their trip. Staying sober, alert, awake, and not following the aggressive driving behaviors of other motorists around you can help reduce the number of dangerous drivers on the road and prevent the possibility of unnecessary Labor Day accidents and fatalities.
Protecting CT Drivers
Labor Day celebrations are supposed to be full of joy and excitement, not filled with worry about getting injured on the way to or from your vacation. If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident due to someone else’s negligence, our winning team at Jacobs & Wallace is here to fight for you. Our expert personal injury attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of Connecticut drivers. Contact us for a free case evaluation to review your options in seeking justice for your unnecessary injuries.