Approximately 1.8 million Floridians will travel during the long Labor Day weekend to share time with friends and family and enjoy late summer cookouts and time off.  With gas prices down, a higher number of people will be travelling by car this year than any year since 2008 before the recession. According to the annual AAA survey, 35.5 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over Labor Day.

More traffic on Tampa area roads and highways increases the risk of accidents and makes it more important for motorists to drive defensively and remain alert for situations that could lead to a traffic accident. Simple precautions such as wearing a seat belt and making sure all passengers buckle up can save lives in the event of a accident.

The National Safety Council estimates that approximately 395 Americans will lose their lives and 47,800 people will be seriously injured in accidents during Labor Day weekend. Analyzing traffic data from 2008 through 2013, the NSC researchers found an 8.9 percent increase in fatal accidents on Labor weekends during that period compared to a non-holiday weekend. This year, the holiday extends from 6 p.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Monday.

The year 2015 is already on track to be the most deadly for traffic accidents in many years, as our law firm noted recently. Traffic fatalities are up 29 percent in Florida during the first half of 2015 compared the same period a year ago, the NSC reports.

Travel Tips for a Safe Labor Day

  • Many people will be on the road, so allow some extra time to reach your destination and avoid feeling stressed if you run into congestion.
  • Don’t start out on a long drive when you are fatigued. Get plenty of sleep before you get behind the wheel and take breaks every two hours while driving to stay fresh. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida had 14 fatalities in traffic accidents last year due to drowsy driving.
  • Read the warning labels on the medications that you take. If they make you drowsy, let someone else drive.
  • Don’t give into the temptation to use a cell phone or check your email when driving. Even hands-free phones cause distractions.
  • Don’t drive after consuming alcohol.

Many Alcohol Related Collisions During Labor Day Weekend

With more people off work, holiday weekends often see an increase in alcohol-related accidents. During Labor Day weekend 2013, drunk driving accidents took the lives of 161 people, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. That equates to one death every 31 minutes on average.

If your Labor Day plans include consuming alcohol, it’s important to designate a driver who will stay sober or arrange to get a ride home. The cost of a taxi is far less than the cost of dealing with an arrest for drunk driving.

To remove drunk drivers from the roads before they cause an accident, the Florida Highway Patrol will be participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign. Troopers will be more visible.

Accidents caused by drunk drivers are preventable accidents, and drunk drivers should be held responsible for the harm they cause and lives they disrupt through their reckless behavior.

If you have been injured in an accident in Tampa caused by another driver, talk to a Tampa car accident lawyer about your legal options to obtain compensation to cover your medical bills and other compensation.