Labor Day was established as a federal holiday in 1894, designated as an occasion to acknowledge the contributions of American workers. For most people, however, the Labor Day weekend has become summer's last hurrah--a final opportunity to celebrate with barbecues, pool parties, lake trips, and last minute vacations before cool autumn weather and school schedules prevent such activity. For some, these celebrations will turn to tragedy, often in the form of deadly car accidents, motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, or swimming pool accidents. Statistics released by organizations including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC) reveal that Labor Day weekend can be a particularly dangerous time of year. According to the NSC, Labor Day weekend is expected to yield 405 traffic fatalities and more than 40,000 medically consulted traffic injuries. Boating accidents will contribute to the number of injuries and deaths occurring over the weekend. For both automobile accidents and boat accidents, alcohol use is a leading cause. We would like to encourage everyone to celebrate Labor Day safely and responsibly. To prevent accidents and injuries this weekend, consider these tips from the National Safety Council:
- If you are drinking, do not drive.
- If you plan to drink, designate a non-drinking driver or plan for alternative transportation, such as a taxi.
- Support the strengthening and vigorous enforcement of impaired-driving laws.
- Young drivers are at particular risk to be involved in alcohol-related crashes (If there is a young driver in your family, strictly enforce a zero tolerance policy with alcohol – all states have a zero tolerance law where drivers under the age of 21 cannot have any alcohol in their systems).
- Your best defense against a drunk driver is wearing your safety belt, so buckle up.
- Establish and enforce a driver’s distraction-free zone, especially in cars equipped with electronic devices including cell phones, video games and global positioning systems.
- Make sure all passengers are buckled up and children are in safety seats appropriate for their size.
- Allow plenty of travel time to avoid frustration and diminish the impulse to speed.
- Drive defensively and exercise caution, especially during inclement weather.