End of Summer Bash … or Crash?

  • Published
  • By Tim Barela, Air Education and Training Command Safety Directorate

The Labor Day holiday marks the last three-day weekend of the summer and the beginning of the school year for many. As such, people often use it as their final summer bash or excursion. Unfortunately, it’s also statistically one of the top three holiday weekends for fatal vehicle crashes.


“Two things factor heavily into this,” said Robbie Bogard, Air Education and Training Command occupational safety manager. “Traffic increases because more people are on the road; and as people celebrate, some tend to drink more alcohol. It’s a dangerous combination.”


Indeed, based on their in-depth analysis, the National Safety Council estimates that between 386 and 552 Americans will die this weekend because of a fatal traffic accident. Historically speaking, nearly 40% of those mishaps will involve an alcohol-impaired driver.


So, what can you do to avoid becoming one of Labor Day weekend’s tragic stories?

“If you are going to be on the road, carefully plan ahead,” Bogard said. “Avoid ‘get-there-itis.’ It’s a longer weekend, but three days, or four days for those taking advantage of the AETC Family Day, is still a relatively short period of time. So many people will feel pressed to get from point A to point B and still make it back home to be on time for work or school on Tuesday morning. This can cause them to take dangerous risks, such as driving with lack of sleep, speeding or trying to go too far in one day.”


Bogard also provided four critical traffic survival tips for the weekend.


– Ensure you get plenty of sleep before getting behind the wheel and make frequent stops to avoid fatigue while on the road.


­– Eliminate distractions, such as texting, while driving.


– If you drink, don’t drive!


– Buckle up. According to the NSC, close to 200 lives can be saved this weekend by people wearing their seat belts.


Another thing to remember is that many states will increase their traffic law enforcement efforts for this holiday weekend, Bogard said. That means more tickets for people not wearing seat belts, speeders and those driving under the influence, to name a few.


“Enjoy the long weekend,” Bogard said. “But take simple precautions to ensure your end of summer bash doesn’t turn into an end of summer crash.”