Labor Day travel reminds us to drive safe, distraction free

Wed, 08/22/2012 - 12:24
As the holiday weekend kicks off, I’m reminded of how many people will be on the road on their way to visit with family and friends, embracing the final days of summer. Analysts expect this Labor Day weekend to be the busiest for travel since before the economic downturn in 2008. AAA predicts that for the D.C. area nearly 800,000 residents will be hitting the road, catching the train, or charting the skies. Of those traveling this weekend in the D.C. region, 86.8 percent are expected to be going by car. That’s a lot of people on area roads and highways – 694,313 to be exact.
Thanks to awareness campaigns and new state laws, the drum beat against distracted driving is getting louder. Hopefully, that means people across the country are thinking twice before taking their eyes and mind off of the road.
In recent weeks, I’ve seen a lot more distracted activities. I witnessed others eating a cup of yogurt with a spoon, chomping on a banana and holding onto the steering wheel at the same time, sharing my lane while looking down at the phone, taking 10 seconds to ‘go’ at the green light. We have all been guilty of multitasking behind the wheel (myself included), but our actions are adding to our risk to get into an accident. In fact, this behavior causes people to be 23 times more likely to crash into something or someone.  I’ve been campaigning against distracted driving for about a year-and-a-half now, but I’m hopeful that the message is starting to carry through to audiences beyond the automotive and teen communities.
What I hope that others have learned from the Distraction Free Fridays campaign here is that pausing, even momentarily, before using our smart phones to capture that funny license plate or to text our friends that we’re ‘almost there’.             -Melanie Batenchuk, Editor of Best Cars Guide
Please join me in committing to driving safer this weekend by tweeting the following pledge and encouraging your friends to do the same:
  • Tweet this -  I pledge to drive safe and distraction-free this Labor Day weekend by putting the device aside and focusing on the drive. #drivesafe
Three tips for safer driving this Labor Day weekend:
  • Avoid fussing over your phone if someone calls while you’re driving by connecting your smartphone to your in-car system via Bluetooth before you start your trip.
  • Don’t have Bluetooth capabilities or an in-car system to support your phone? Designate a passenger to read aloud important emails or texts. Have them respond on your behalf.
  • Riding alone? Save the correspondence for the pit stops during your trip so you can pull over and check your messages and return them safely in ‘park’.

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