According to predictions from AAA Texas, nearly three million people will take to Texas roadways this Memorial Day weekend, from Thursday May 21 through Monday, May 25, and drive at least 50 miles from home. That number represents a five percent increase over last year’s holiday travel numbers, because of much lower gas prices and strong employment numbers.
While that represents great news for the Texas economy, heavier traffic could mean tragedy for many Texas families. With so many people clogging Texas highways, it pays to make sure everyone is driving safely and without distractions. Much of the time, when people are asked which holiday is the deadliest on the roads, they think of New Year’s Eve. They’re not entirely wrong, but other holidays, especially those that occur in the summer, can be just as deadly.
Avoiding tragedy, however, can be surprisingly easy; as easy as 1-2-3.
One of the fastest-growing causes of auto and truck accidents and fatalities comes with distracted driving. It is estimated that one out of every five Texas crashes involves a driver who was distracted in some way, including talking on a cell phone, texting, or even eating or playing with the radio. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013 there were just under 95,000 accidents involving a distracted driver, resulting in 18,576 serious injuries and 459 deaths.
According to a number of studies, drivers who use a cell phone while driving are up to four times more likely to get into an accident that is serious enough to cause injury. The most dangerous such activity, of course, comes from texting and driving. According to research released last year by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, a driver’s reaction time will actually double when they have been distracted by text messaging. The mere sending or receiving of a text message will distract a driver for nearly five seconds. That means they can travel the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour, and are essentially blind while doing so.
Wear Your Seat Belt
This year, buckling up and wearing your seat belt could not only save your life, it could save you some money. This year Memorial Day falls right in the middle of this year’s “Click It or Ticket” seat belt safety campaign, which is already underway and runs from May 18 through May 31. With the NHTSA and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) both participating, police agencies throughout Texas will be stepping up enforcement efforts through the end of the month.
This is a good thing. According to the NHTSA, between 2008 and 2012, about 63,000 lives were saved by buckling up. In 2013, nearly half of all motor vehicle fatalities were people who were not wearing a seatbelt, and that number increases to 61 percent when among occupants between 18 and 34 years of age.
Designate a Driver
As is the case for most holiday weekends, Memorial Day weekend usually involves an increase in accidents involving drunk drivers. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs creates a serious risk, not just to the driver and the passengers in the car, but also to everyone else on the road. According to statistics from the NHTSA, three people die in alcohol-related accidents every two hours. Because of this, law enforcement officers throughout the state of Texas will be patrolling roads looking for those who might be impaired.
Keep in mind highly publicized adage, “buzzed driving is drunk driving,” because it’s true. While the legal limit in Texas is a blood-alcohol content of 0.08, you can still be arrested for impairment, even if you’re well below that. And if you’re caught, it could cost you tens of thousands of dollars, not counting the higher insurance rates you’re likely to pay. Therefore, it would be wise to designate a driver before you head home this holiday weekend.
We at the Liggett Law Group want everyone in Texas and elsewhere to have a great time this and every Memorial Day weekend. Just taking a few precautions can make the holiday safe for everyone. However, if you or a loved one has been involved in a traffic accident because someone else wasn’t being safe, please contact the attorneys at Liggett Law Group today. Our team of car accident lawyers in Lubbock can inform you of your rights and help you get through this difficult time.