Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer vacation season. The national holiday falls on May 30 this year, and often features parades and other memorial activities in many communities across the nation.
AAA says the 2022 Memorial Day holiday could be the busiest in many years. The auto insurer that traditionally forecasts holiday travel says there are about twice as many hotel reservations during the holiday this year than there were a year ago.
Many people also drive to their vacation homes and cabins on the water or in the woods to open them for the summer. The nation’s highways and freeways could become very congested. Construction zones will contribute to traffic delays.
With so many people on the move this Memorial Day weekend, the roads will be very busy. Virginia Beach and other popular tourist destinations also are certain to see lots of traffic and out-of-town visitors for the holiday.
Memorial Day Driving Can Be Very Risky
The National Safety Council (NSC) says Memorial Day annually accounts for more than 400 fatalities and up to 57,000 injuries caused by vehicular accidents. The Memorial Day holiday weekend starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 28, and does not end until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 30.
Statistics show that Memorial Day weekend is the most dangerous of all national holidays for motorists and their passengers. AutoInsurance.org shows the top-five holidays for fatalities and their respective three-year averages are:
- Memorial Day – 448 deaths.
- Labor Day – 445 deaths.
- Independence Day – 440 deaths.
- Father’s Day – 431 deaths.
- Cinco de Mayo – 419 deaths.
The NSC forecasts up to 500 roadway deaths during the Memorial Day holiday this year. The NSC also predicts about 48,000 injuries due to traffic accidents.
The federal government recently implemented the Juneteenth national holiday that is observed every June 19. There are no current statistics that show how that holiday might affect road-going safety.
Tips to Help Make Your Memorial Day Travels Safe and Memorable
Take the necessary precautions to ensure the safest travels during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Start by ensuring your vehicle is in good shape for a long road trip. You should have your brakes inspected and serviced as needed. If you have not balanced the wheels and rotated the tires in the past year, that would help to ensure you have good tread and properly inflated tires.
If your car is due for an oil change, you should have that done along with an air filter. Replacing any faulty spark plugs or wires will help you to get the best fuel economy.
You should have the battery checked to make sure it is in good condition, and the coolant to prevent overheating. If the wiper blades are worn out, you should replace those and top off the washer fluid reservoir.
All lights and signals should work properly. An air conditioning check could help to ensure you and any passengers can enjoy a comfortable ride.
Buckle Up and Drive within the Speed Limit
The two most effective ways to ensure your safety over Memorial Day weekend are to wear a seatbelt and abide by the speed limit. Wearing seatbelts can cut the chances of suffering a fatal injury in half for you and your passengers.
While buckled up, focus on driving safely. The best way to drive safely is to stay within the speed limit, obey traffic lights and signs, and maintain a safe following distance. Speed is a significant factor in causing catastrophic injuries and death. The more you travel at the speed limit, the less likely that will happen.
Maintaining a safe following distance of at least two seconds will help to give you plenty of time to stop safely and avoid potential accidents. If it is raining or the roads are wet due to another cause, you should try to increase the following distance to three or four seconds. The busier the roads are, the harder that will be to do.
Minimize Your Potential Distractions
Distracted driving is a significant cause of auto accidents and especially on the freeway. Taking your eyes off of the road for five seconds while traveling at highway speeds is the same as driving the distance of a football field without looking. The fewer potential distractions that you have will enhance your safety.
The cellphone is an obvious source of distraction that you should leave off while you are driving to and from your Memorial Day destination. Any passengers who might be with you would be the best person to talk on the phone and send and receive text messages while you are on the road.
You also should be wary of pets, reaching for objects, or even eating while you are driving. Your passengers might even cause distractions, so you should do your best to keep things calm and reasonably quiet to enable you to focus on driving safely.
Expect Busy Roads and Traffic Delays
Memorial Day weekend is one of the most traveled holidays all year. It also coincides with the summer road construction season. Although most road crews take the holiday off in part to enable greater safety, closed lanes and construction sites still can cause delays and restrict traffic flow.
Even if you are driving a relatively short distance, you should plan on encountering heavy traffic and delays. If your trip normally would take two hours to complete, you should plan on three hours.
The longer the trip, the more you should plan on taking breaks to stay hydrated, fed, and alert. If you have a co-driver available, that can help to reduce the driving fatigue that you might otherwise endure.
Get Some Rest During the Holiday Weekend
Fatigue is a major factor in holiday accidents. Many people put in a long day of work on Friday and complete their holiday travel in the evening. A busy holiday schedule adds to the excitement and can wear out many motorists.
If you stay for Memorial Day parades, cookouts, and other traditional activities while visiting with friends and family, it is very easy to become exhausted.
It is very important to try to schedule some downtime throughout the holiday weekend. That will help you to rest and relax so that you can be more alert during activities and when driving home at the end of the holiday.
If you can stay with friends or family on Memorial Day and leave on Tuesday, that can help you to stay alert. It also will help you to avoid the busy roads on the way home.
If you have to return on Memorial Day, you should be prepared to take breaks if you become tired. Driving while drowsy is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Do Not Drink and Drive
You might have some fun gatherings with family, friends, or both during the holiday weekend. You should do your best to avoid drinking and driving by skipping the alcohol or having a designated driver.
Recreational marijuana also is legal in Virginia, and you might be tempted to partake. Any intoxicating substance will affect your ability to drive safely. You need to be careful of driving after imbibing.
If you are pulled over and test positive for marijuana, alcohol, or any other intoxicating substances, you could face criminal charges. You need to do your best to ensure that does not happen.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC, Help to Hold Bad Drivers Accountable
Whenever you might be in a car accident, you can call our experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We represent clients in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.