Labor Day holiday and highway safety

Margaret Brackett - Contributing Columnist

Labor Day was created to honor the workforce of our country — a day of relaxation as we enjoy time off from work. But like some holidays, the true meaning has been forgotten.

Instead, Labor Day is associated with drinking, boating, and road trips as Americans take advantage of the last long holiday of the summer. These last weeks of summer can be an especially dangerous time on our highways. AAA states Labor Day travel may be the highest in 2016.

More vacationers will drive this year, than fly. Travel by automobile will rise to 29.2 million travelers. The average distance traveled will be 594 miles based on the median estimate.

Labor Day celebrations continue in cities and towns across the U.S. with parades, firework displays and other community gatherings. The Labor Day weekend is one of the deadliest periods for impaired deaths.

City and county law enforcement agencies will be out in effort to crack down on impaired driving and reduce roadway fatalities. Supporting these heroes who keep us safe on the roads is a critical part of MADD’s campaign to eliminate drunk driving.

One of the deadliest activities a person will ever do in his or her lifetime is driving a motor vehicle. According to Lance Corporal Tony C. Kelly, community relations officer for S.C. Highway Patrol Troop 2:

South Carolina fatalities

Statistics show that more than 1,000 people die on our state’s roadways each year. What you may not know are the common mistakes people make behind the wheel and the “insider tips” for preventing these fatal mistakes.

The good news about vehicle collisions is that you have control over most of the factors that could cause you to die behind the wheel.

Most people blame the problems on our roadways on “the other guy.” What they may not know is that the majority of the collisions we investigate are due to driver error and often involve only one vehicle. It may surprise you to know that the single greatest danger you face on the roadways is yourself.

Fatal collisions sadly are replays of the same tragic scene again and again. The driver veers off the road due to speed, fatigue, inattention or impairment from drugs or alcohol.


This can happen if you run off the roadway. Remember the off/off rule. Take your foot off the accelerator and keep it off the brake.

Stopped traffic

Scan ahead when driving to prevent head-on collisions to avoid sudden lane changes or stops. Keep a good distance between yourself and other vehicles. Keep eyes on the rear-view mirror to ensure cars behind you are responding to slowdown.


Pressure and good tread are vital. If you have a blowout, do not slam on your brakes. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and let the vehicle coast to stop well off the main portion of road.

Intersection/stop lights

Even if you have right of way, slow down and scan the area for vehicles disregarding the signal. Failure to yield right-of-way is one of the primary causes of fatal collisions.

If you are in a collision

Observe your surroundings before exiting your vehicle. Move your vehicle out of traffic into a safe location, if there are no injuries. This is the law.

Tips on road assistance

Move your vehicle to the right side of the road out of the flow of traffic, if possible. Do not leave the vehicle stopped in a traffic lane. Show clear signals that there is a problem and you need assistance by raising the vehicle hood. This is an internationally recognized sign of distress.

In addition, turn on your emergency flashers and display signs to indicate for help. If you remain in the vehicle, another motorist will likely report your disabled vehicle to the police. Be prepared for problem situations with such items as flares, flashlights, first-aid kit, and mobile phone.

Safety belts

Seat belts are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today. Seat belts increase your chance of survival and reduces injuries in a collision. Buckle up, South Carolina. It’s the law and it’s enforced. Every hour, someone in America dies simply because they didn’t buckle up. Our safety belt law requires the driver and every occupant, with exceptions, must wear a fastened seat belt.

South Carolina’s “Sober or Slammer!” is part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign and aims to deter motorists from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as the “100 Deadly Days of Summer” wrap up with the Labor Day holiday on Sept. 5.

Nearly half of South Carolina’s fatalities each year continue to be DUI-related. That is why we are enlisting the public to help be our eyes on the highways and combat this problem by calling *HP if they suspect an impaired driver. We can save lives and prevent injuries due to many of those arrests.

Margaret Brackett

Contributing Columnist

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.

Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.

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