As Labor Day travelers head out of town this weekend on their last summer getaway, the Automobile Club of Southern California is advising drivers to watch for distractions, especially as new statistics reveal that traffic crashes are on the rise in California and nationwide.
Holiday weekend travel is likely to cause extra congestion on local freeways starting on Thursday morning. The top Labor Day weekend destinations for Southern California travelers, according to a survey of AAA Travel agents, are:
1) San Diego
2) Las Vegas
3) San Francisco
5) Catalina Island
Also popular for the holiday weekend, in part because of the National Park Service Centennial, are Grand Canyon, Sequoia and other nearby national parks.
Although local gas prices have risen in recent days, travelers this holiday will pay less to fill up than during any other Labor Day holiday since 2004, when motorists were paying just above $2 a gallon on average in Los Angeles.
New preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council (NSC) indicate the number of fatal crashes in California may have risen by as much as 31 percent from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2016. The NSC also projects that 431 traffic crash deaths may occur nationwide over this holiday weekend – the highest number since 2008.
The Auto Club advises motorists to stay safe when traveling this holiday weekend by:
Checking out your vehicle. Check your tire pressure while the tires are cold using the recommended pressure listed on the inside of the vehicle’s driver door. Make sure all belts and hoses are not worn or cracked, and that fluids are at adequate levels.
Getting enough sleep. Motorists need at least five hours of sleep before setting off on a road trip. If possible, alternate the driving with another person in the vehicle.
Avoiding distractions. In the five seconds it takes to answer a text, your car travels the length of a football field. If possible, ask other passengers to handle navigation, and don’t use the phone while driving even if it has hands-free features, because research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates a hands-free phone conversation still is dangerously distracting.
Not drinking and driving. It’s never safe to drink and drive, and extra holiday travel traffic congestion adds more opportunities for tragedy. Use a designated driver, make arrangements to stay overnight, or arrange a safe ride home if you plan to drink.
Not using certain prescriptions before getting behind the wheel. Make sure your needed prescriptions don’t affect your driving ability. If you don’t know, check out RoadwiseRX.com, a free AAA site that lists possible driving-related side effects for most medications.