Staying Safe Over Labor Day Weekend
Summer is sadly coming to an end. Thankfully, Labor Day weekend is one last chance to get out and enjoy the sunshine. But Labor Day weekend can also present a few dangers. It’s important to stay safe while you’re having fun. Here are some tips about how to avoid accidents and injuries this Labor Day, whether you’re in your car, out on the lake or on the sidewalk.
Staying Safe in Your Car
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Labor Day is the second most dangerous holiday for American drivers. (The first is Thanksgiving.) The NHTSA blames drunk driving for much of the harm. Between 2010 and 2014, it reports, more than 750 people died in drunk driving crashes.
So, what can you do to stay safe? Of course, be cautious about getting behind the wheel after even just one drink—even if you think that you’re probably fine to drive. Take extra time to let yourself sober up, drink water and, when in doubt, call an Uber or have a sober friend drive.
When you do get behind the wheel, remember to make driving your entire focus. Put down your phone so that you’re not tempted to be distracted by texting, social media or talking while on the road.
Not driving distracted is especially critical over Labor Day weekend because you are likely to encounter drunk drivers on Minnesota roads. The NHTSA reports that, for the last Labor Day for which statistics are available, 83 percent of deaths in drunk driving crashes happened between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Later in the day, people are more likely to be drunk on the roads. So, if you need to travel, it’s better to do so earlier.
If you spot a drunk driver while you’re on the road, stay as far away from the other vehicle as possible and don’t try to pass. If you can, note the driver’s license plate, pull over and call 911. Reporting a drunk driver may save someone’s life.
Staying Safe on Your Boat
Boating is a favorite Labor Day pastime in our great state. Unfortunately, many people do not take boat safety seriously. In Minnesota, boating is often mixed with alcohol, which increases the chances that an accident might occur. According to the Minnesota DNR, alcohol is the number one factor in boating fatalities. Boating while impaired (BWI) is a crime. If convicted, a boater can face up to a $1,000 fine (plus surcharges), possible jail time and loss of motorboat operating privileges.
Minnesota state law requires that children under 10 years old wear a life jacket while boating. The law also requires that life jackets for each person on the boat be readily accessible and wearable. Although adults don’t have to put them on, wearing a life jacket at all times is a good idea.
First, many boating fatalities involve a head injury, exposure or another event that knocks the person unconscious—and unconscious people can’t put on life jackets. Your Type I or Type II life jacket is specially designed to keep your head out of the water, even if you are not awake and alert.
Second, wearing a life jacket sets a good example others, including your own children. If they see adults wearing life jackets, they may be more likely to wear life jackets themselves—even when the adults aren’t looking.
Staying Safe on Your Feet
Pedestrians walking along Minnesota roadways over the long Labor Day weekend should use extra caution, remembering that the holiday is notorious for drinking and driving. Don’t assume that drivers will see you. When crossing the street, make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you and stop. When walking along a roadway with no sidewalks, it is usually safer to walk facing traffic. And always use the sidewalks when they are available.
Also remember that—just like behind the wheel—alcohol and other drugs also impair your ability to make decisions about walking safely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that when alcohol was involved in a fatal pedestrian accident, the pedestrian was legally drunk 34 percent of the time. So, use extra caution when you’re walking home from a party.
All of these warnings may sound serious. That’s because they are. We hope that they don’t get in the way of your fun this Labor Day weekend—only that they help you stay safe. We hope that you aren’t involved in any type of accident. But if you do need our help, know we are here for you.