Labor Day weekend begins tomorrow for many Americans. Those traveling on our highways should ask if this Labor Day will bring an end of summer bash or end of summer crash? Like any holiday weekend, you can expect to see heavy traffic on our highways, despite the threat of a hurricane. Drivers will likely be tired, distracted, and in a hurry. Defensive driving skills will be the order of the day.
Most of us pack as much as possible into a holiday weekend. At the beginning of the weekend, many people have devoted time and energy into preparations for a trip. This makes many drivers fatigued at the beginning of the weekend. After playing and celebrating, many drivers are fatigued when they get into a vehicle to drive home. We should remember that fatigued driving is as dangerous as distracted driving.
Distracted drivers are, as we know, very dangerous on a highway. Whether eating, changing radio stations, talking on a phone, attending to passengers in the vehicle distractions are dangerous to you and your passengers and to everyone else sharing the highway. A combination of fatigue and distraction will often be deadly.
Drunk or drugged drivers are often perceived to be the most dangerous of all drivers on the roads, particularly on a holiday weekend. Drunk and drugged drivers are at great risk of losing control of their vehicle, and may drive erratically. When alcohol or drugs are combined with other risky behaviors, the risk of a serious crash increases exponentially.
The primary cause of traffic fatalities on our highways is speeding. Particularly on a holiday weekend, when distractions and fatigue are at play, speeding is likely to be deadly. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that for more than 20 years, speeding has been involved in roughly one-third of all motor vehicle crashes with a fatality. In 2017, speeding was a factor in 26 per cent of all traffic fatalities. Speeding:
- Increases the likelihood of being involved in a crash
- Increases the severity of injuries sustained by all road users in a crash.
Speeding is considered a type of aggressive driving. The NHTSA identifies four major factors that contribute to speeding and the overall increase in aggressive driving. The factors are:
- Traffic congestion is used frequently as a reason for many kinds of aggressive driving, including speeding, changing lanes abruptly and/or often, and road rage.
- Running late. Many people claim that they have many things to do and, as a result, are running late for an appointment or deadline.
- Anonymity. Enclosed inside a vehicle sometimes make us feel that we are insulated from our surroundings and are, in fact, relatively anonymous. For some people, this feeling is sufficient to permit dangerous behavior that will not be seen by anyone they know.
- Disregard for Others and for the Law. All forms of aggressive driving demonstrate some level of disregard for others, whether this is an occasional occurrence or common practice. Sometimes, for some people, arriving somewhere on time or making up time lost to delays are sufficient to justify speeding.
We should understand that deaths and injuries caused by speeding drivers is a significant number of people. Consider the statistics for 2018:
Speed-Related Crashes 25,892 (19.6% of all traffic crashes)
Fatal Crashes 314
Injury Crashes 8,690
Property Damage Crashes 16,888
Speed-Related Persons Killed 339 (41.4% of all traffic fatalities)
Drivers Killed 251
Passengers Killed 63
Pedestrians Killed 25
Speed-Related Persons Injured 13,346 (20.1% of all traffic injuries)
Drivers Injured 10,194
Passengers Injured 3,071
Pedestrians Injured 81
Speed-Related Persons Seriously Injured 2,336 (31.4% of all traffic serious injuries)
Drivers Seriously Injured 1,704
Passengers Seriously Injured 593
Pedestrians Seriously Injured 39
[Source: 2018 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts. Virginia Highway Safety Office.]]
Please drive carefully and drive alert this weekend. Watch for distracted or fatigued drivers, and manage your proximity to speeders.
- If you are in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let them go.
- Allow extra space when around speeders. Remember that speeders lose control of their vehicles more easily than other drivers.
- Adjust your driving to the behavior of other drivers near you. Use your best judgment to choose a course of action, but get out of the way of aggressive and distracted drivers the safest way you can.
- Don’t speed or drive distracted, drugged, drunk or fatigued.
- Plan your schedule carefully and allow plenty of time for your drive, even if you encounter delays or traffic jams.
We want you to enjoy an end of summer bash, not be involved in an end of summer crash. Please drive carefully and responsibly.
Altizer Law, P.C., is an auto accident and personal injury attorney in Roanoke, VA. Bettina Altizer has been helping people injured by the wrongdoing or negligence of others for more than 30 years. She and her team are widely respected and trusted. They know that when rebuilding your life after an injury, it’s about the money.