As 35 million Americans plan to travel this Memorial Day weekend, we urge drivers in Massachusetts and throughout New England to think safety.
Travel will be down 100,000 travelers from 2010, which saw a 14 percent increase from the year before, according to the auto club AAA. Approximately 30.9 million people plan to drive 50 miles or more to their Memorial Day destination.
When this many drivers are on the road, it is especially important to watch out for those around you to avoid traffic accidents. That includes pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists as well as other cars. Here are some things to remember while traveling this holiday weekend:
- Wear seatbelts and make sure everyone in the car does the same. It is the law in Massachusetts and has proven effective in preventing traffic fatalities. In 2008 alone, seat belts saved more than 13,000 lives nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- If you are traveling with children, make sure child passenger seats are in compliance with the law. Passenger seats can save lives in motor vehicle accidents. Click here to learn about Massachusetts’ child passenger seat law.
- When the roads are congested, watch out for aggressive drivers. Aggressive driving behavior may include someone who is following you too closely, speeding or gesturing at you. Avoid eye contact. Do not gesture back. Make it your goal to move away from the driver and not be involved in an aggressive driving car accident. If you can get the driver’s license plate, report the driver to authorities when it is safe to do so.
- Avoid driving fatigue. Do not drive if you have had inadequate sleep, worked an excessive number of hours or late at night without proper rest.
- Give motorcyclists more distance – three or four seconds – when following from behind to prevent a motorcycle accident. The goal is to give the motorcyclist enough time to make decisions and stop quickly if needed.
- Be aware that a motorcycle’s flashing turn signal can be deceptive. The signal may not be self-canceling and a motorcyclist may forget to turn it off. Wait to see whether the rider actually turns or a motorcycle accident may result.
- Allow bicyclists 3 feet clearance when passing on the road.
- Yield to cyclists at intersections and traffic signals before making your own driving decisions.
- Watch out for pedestrians and runners even in areas you may not expect them. In 2009, pedestrian deaths accounted for 12 percent of all traffic fatalities.
- Be vigilant about not driving while distracted and not texting while driving. It may be easy to let your guard down when you are relaxing among friends and family. But motor vehicle accidents happen fast and it is best to focus on the road.
- If you are drinking alcohol, do not drive, bicycle or walk on the road.