Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season. Millions of Americans will be enjoying the sunshine and the warmer weather at picnics, barbeques, pool parties, or a weekend trip to the beach. However, Memorial Day also kicks off the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There is a significant increase in serious, even fatal, car accidents on roads and highways.
Several factors contribute to this spike in car accidents, from an increase in inexperienced teen drivers behind the wheel to drunk, drowsy, and distracted drivers. While there is a range of proactive steps that you can take to avoid a severe car accident, you cannot control how other motorists drive. If you are injured in a car accident over Memorial Day weekend, it is highly recommended that you contact a skilled car accident lawyer at your earliest convenience.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 415 fatalities and 47,300 injuries happened over Memorial Day weekend last year. Whether motorists are heading to the beach for the weekend, to a pool party in the neighborhood, or a family picnic a couple of hours away, most people travel by car, which has the highest fatality rate. Teen drivers between 16 and 19 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than drivers 20 years old or older.
Memorial Day is just a couple of short weeks away, but you may already have plans to celebrate the holiday with friends and family. Nothing derails a much-anticipated holiday weekend than an unexpected car accident. If you know some of the common causes of car accidents, you can take proactive steps to avoid them. The following are examples of the most common causes of serious car accidents over Memorial Day weekend.
According to the AAA, approximately 39 million Americans will be traveling over 50 miles over Memorial Day weekend. The more vehicles there are on the roads, the more likely car accidents may occur. Motorists should use extra caution, obey the road rules, and make safety a top priority as they travel during the holiday weekend.
If you are attending a party, a barbeque, or simply hanging out in the backyard with a friend, there is a good chance that alcohol will be served. Too often, people overdo it when they are celebrating with friends.
Alcohol causes a range of impairments, including a loss of coordination, slower reaction time, and a reduced ability to keep one’s attention focused on the road. The more alcohol a motorist has, the more impaired they will be. The majority of fatal drunk driving accidents occur between 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
Spending the day in the hot sun can be exhausting, mainly when you have been drinking all day or had a long drive to get to your destination. Drowsy driving can cause some of the same impairments as drunk driving. In fact, according to the CDC, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
Talking or texting while driving, checking social media, reaching for something in the back seat, or interacting with other passengers in the vehicle are all examples of distracted driving. Despite the widely accepted knowledge that this is highly unsafe behavior, motorists continue to drive while distracted. If you take your eyes off the road for five seconds while driving at a speed of 55 miles per hour, it is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded.
Heavy traffic can be frustrating, particularly when you have plans for the holiday weekend and the traffic slows you down. However, this is not a reason to tailgate, cut off other drivers, run through red lights, or drive too fast. A moment of impatience and frustration can have devastating consequences if your aggressive driving causes a severe car accident.
How Can I Stay Safe When Traveling This Memorial Day Weekend?
You can avoid a car accident by making safety a top priority and keeping the following tips in mind as you prepare for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend:
- Obey the rules of the road. Motorists should always obey the speed limit and avoid tailgating, cutting off other drivers, and weaving in and out of lanes. This is even more important when traffic is heavy and more motorists on the roads may be drowsy, distracted, or under the influence of alcohol. The NSC urges all motorists to practice defensive driving and report motorists tailgating, cutting off other drivers, or sending rude hand gestures to other motorists.
- Wear a seat belt. This may not prevent you from being involved in a car accident, but it could save your life or reduce the severity of injuries in a severe car accident. In fact, according to the NSC, seat belts have saved approximately 374,276 lives, so all motorists, including backseat passengers, must wear their seat belts at all times.
- Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition. Before taking a road trip over Memorial Day weekend, it is highly recommended that you have your car serviced and ensure that the brakes, tires, and battery are in good working order. You should also check the fluids, including the wiper fluid, engine oil, brake and transmission fluid, antifreeze, power steering, and windshield washer fluid.
- Do not drink and drive. It is common knowledge that drinking and driving is dangerous, irresponsible, and potentially deadly. If you are attending a party or any event where alcohol is being served, avoid drinking, or arrange for a safe ride home if you plan to drink. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause impairments and increase the risk of a fatal car accident.
- Get enough sleep. While it is widely accepted that drunk driving is dangerous, drowsy driving is not taken nearly as seriously, even though it can be just as harmful. Ensure that you get plenty of sleep the night before a long drive. If possible, avoid driving home late at night after being in the hot sun all day.
What Should I Do if I am in a Car Accident Over Memorial Day Weekend?
Accidents do happen, but the situation can be much less stressful if you know the proper steps to take. The first step you should do is call 911 to report the accident and request an ambulance if there are any injuries. Take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and any other evidence that may help prove who caused the accident. Exchange information with the other driver, including driver’s license number, license plate number, contact information, and insurance information. Notify your insurance company that you were involved in a car accident. If you plan to file a personal injury claim, consider contacting a skilled lawyer who can assist you with the process.
Understanding the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident is also essential. In Pennsylvania, the deadline is two years from the date of the accident. If the accident resulted in a fatality, the surviving family members might file a wrongful death claim. The deadline for this type of claim is two years from the loved one’s death. If you miss the deadline for either of these claims and attempt to file your claim after the deadline has passed, your lawsuit will likely be denied.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Those Injured in Memorial Day Accidents
If you become seriously injured in a car accident over Memorial Day weekend, do not hesitate to contact one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. With offices in Philadelphia, Abington, Media, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.