The arrival of summer is often an exciting time for families. There are road trips to make, vacations to go on, and many teenagers who are spreading their wings for the first time. Of course, all of this means that more families are traveling in automobiles, and traveling further distances at a time than during the school year. More automobile travel means more chances of an automobile accident. In fact, between Memorial Day and Labor Day there is a sharp increase in the number of accidents involving children. Many times, those children are young teenagers who are driving for their first summer.
Statistically, there are more car accidents on Memorial Day and July 4th than any other day of the summer season. There is an average of 100 traffic-related deaths annually on Independence Day, and over 460 traffic-related deaths during Memorial Day weekend’s three-day span. Since both of these holidays are often celebrated with alcohol, it is often a major contributor to these accidents. Not wearing a seat belt has also been found to be a common denominator in many of these devastating statistics. Here are a few things you can do to help keep you and your family safe from Summer Car Accidents.
Don’t Drink and Drive, & Pay Attention!
We’ve heard those words a million times, “Don’t drink and drive.” Yet they aren’t just words. They can literally save your life or the lives of others. If you are planning to attend a summer event where you know that there is a high likelihood that you will be drinking, then plan ahead, and have an alternative way to get home. Either have a designated driver, cab fare and the number in your pocket, call someone to come get you, or stay where you are. If you are a parent of a teenager, be realistic. Although you do not want your child to drink at a summer party, there is a chance that they might. Discuss this with them and make sure that they know, if they find themselves with ANY mount of alcohol in their system, they can call you for a safe ride home.
It is also important to pay attention while on the road. Distracted driving can sometimes be almost as dangerous as drinking while intoxicated. On vacations and long trips, provide games, books, etc to keep children busy so that they will be less likely to distract you. Don’t engage a GPS when driving. Pull off the road to use it. Cell phones should be on silent, and out of sight. If a call is necessary, pull over to make it. Also, make it a strict rule in your household; teenage drivers are not allowed to use their phone in any way while the car is turned on.
Wear Your Seat Belt
In almost every state there is a law requiring anyone riding in a motor vehicle over the age of 18 to wear a seat belt. The only state which does not have this law is New Hampshire. Seat belts can help prevent a great number of deaths during an automobile accident. In fact, in the year 2010 alone, 57% of those who were killed in automobile accidents on Memorial Day were not wearing a seat belt. You should also stress this to any teenager you have who will be driving; wearing a seat belt could save their life.
The new heir to the British crown has no grandmother because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt when her limousine crashed. The only survivor of that crash was the only one in the vehicle wearing a seat belt.
Practice Safety and Common Sense
There are many things you can do to improve safety in your automobile during trips. Do not over-pack the car. If suitcases, boxes, or bags are precariously balanced in the car or SUV, they can turn into missiles during even the smallest accident. Make sure that all baggage is secured. It is also important to make sure that everything on the automobile is in working condition. Brake lights, blinker signals, and other lights can help prevent other motorists from having an accident. This also applies to any trailer you may be towing. Check all fluids and make sure that your windshield stays clean and that your wipers work well. Do not drive while tired… stop and rest. Be an example to your kids by teaching them travel safety when they are young, and enforce it when they become teenagers. Remember, kids do what they see…so set a good example!