Summer is the busiest time of year on our nation’s roads. For instance, AAA estimated that more than 36 million people – 925,000 of them from Georgia –traveled more than 50 miles from home during Memorial Day weekend.
Summer can also be the most dangerous time of year for driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 377 people died in crashes during the Memorial Day holiday weekend in 2012, and that was just during a 78-hour period. In Georgia, police said there were 650 crashes during that timeframe that resulted in six deaths and 377 injuries.
While some car accidents are unavoidable, many wrecks can be prevented by driving responsibly. We want you to consider following these eight tips:
- Always wear a seat belt. Georgia law enforcement officers are increasing patrols as part of their annual Click It or Ticket campaign.
- Don’t drive after drinking. Consumption of any amount of alcohol can impair one’s ability to operate an automobile safely and raises the risk of colliding with another vehicle or being hurt in a single-vehicle crash. While the legal limit for DUI for adults is .08 percent blood alcohol, drivers can still be charged with DUI even if their blood alcohol is below the legal limit if they are driving in a manner that suggests they are impaired.
- Watch out for pedestrians. People tend to get out and walk more during the summer months. When you are approaching intersections and making turns, whether you are in a suburban neighborhood or driving through a busy nightlife district such as the Midtown area, keep an eye out for people crossing the street. Pedestrians always have the right of way when crossing the street in a crosswalk. Georgia drivers are required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and must remain stopped until the pedestrians clear the crosswalk.
- Drive carefully around bicycles. Warmer weather tends to bring out bicyclists as well. In particular, you may encounter cyclists on rural highways that are considered good bike routes. Remember: These cyclists have a legal right to share the road with you. Also, under Georgia law, you must give at least three feet of room between your car and the bicycle when passing.
- Make sure children are properly restrained. Before heading out on the road for a long drive to your vacation spot, check your car seats and booster seats to make sure they are properly installed and in good condition.
- Ensure that your vehicle is in working order. In particular, check the inflation and tread of your tires, which are at a higher risk for blowouts in hot temperatures. Also check to make sure that all headlights, tail lights, and signal lights on your vehicle are functioning properly.
- Obey laws regarding cell phones and texting while driving. Never attempt to read or send a text when you are behind the wheel and never use a hand-held cell phone. In fact, studies show that talking on a hands-free device can be dangerous as well. Whatever text or call you receive while driving, responding to it can wait until you reach your destination safely.
- Talk to your teenager about the importance of safe driving. Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the “100 Deadliest Days of Driving” for teenagers. Make sure your teen understands the dangers of riding in a car that is full of distractions, including electronic devices and passengers. Make sure your teens know never to get behind the wheel after drinking, or get into a car with a driver who has been drinking.