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AAA urges caution during Labor Day travels

Staff Report • Aug 31, 2019 at 8:00 AM

NASHVILLE — Labor Day weekend is one of the most traveled weekends of the year, and this year will likely be no different.

With gas prices falling across the nation, millions of motorists will be hitting the roads to celebrate the unofficial end of summer vacation season. As drivers set out on that last road trip of the summer, AAA is urging motorists to buckle up and avoid speeding, distractions and driving impaired.

“With greater numbers of drivers expected on the roadways, it’s crucial for motorists to make safe and responsible decisions when getting behind the wheel,” said Seth Andrews, Tennessee government and public relations consultant for AAA, in a press release.

Most crashes preventable

The majority of traffic crashes can be prevented. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, impaired driving accounted for just under one-third of all traffic fatalities in 2017.

While speeding-related fatalities declined in 2017, speeding still accounted for more than one-fourth of all crash fatalities. Distractions and passengers failing to buckle up lead to fatalities, as well.

Safe travel tips

AAA offers five tips for staying safe behind the wheel:

Plan ahead: Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced. If you are unfamiliar with how to get to your destination, program your navigation ahead of time; don’t wait until you’re already on the road to program your GPS. Make sure the battery on your phone is completely charged and have a charger in case of an emergency. Keep an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle.

Leave early: AAA encourages drivers who have the flexibility to travel during off-peak hours. Based on prior holiday trends, we know that Friday afternoons are busy days to travel. Traffic is also expected to be heavy late Monday afternoon.

Be patient: Follow the rules of the road, as there will be more motorists on the roadways than usual, with many in unfamiliar areas. Stay alert and be sure to have a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel. If you’re feeling drowsy, pull off to a safe location and take a nap.

Eliminate distractions: Avoid distractions like texting while driving or reading a text while driving. If you must respond to a text or a phone call, pull off to a safe location. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of getting into a crash.

Buckle up: Make sure all passengers are buckled up no matter which seat they occupy. This simple action can save lives should you get into a crash.

“Tow to Go”

AAA and Budweiser will team up once again this year to provide “Tow to Go” for Labor Day travelers. The service aims to prevent drivers from driving while impaired by providing a complimentary ride for the driver and two for their vehicle. You do not have to be an AAA member to use this service.

Since its inception in 1998, “Tow to Go” has removed more than 25,000 impaired drivers from roads across the Southeast and Midwest, including in Tennessee. The program is available through Sept. 3 at 6 a.m. by calling (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246.

The bottom line

“Take your time, plan ahead and be extra alert to make sure you and your passengers stay safe while out on the roads,” Andrews said. “If drivers follow these simple rules when it comes to traveling during the holiday weekend, we can reduce or even eliminate unnecessary crashes while avoiding injury or death.”