By far, the best thing you can do to enjoy a safe Labor Day weekend is to use common sense on the road. Whether you are staying in New York over the long weekend or traveling out of town, know that Labor Day is one of the deadliest holidays for car accidents.
Labor Day averaged 308 fatalities per year between 2011 and 2015, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This remarkably high figure is second only to Memorial Day's average of 312 fatal accidents over the same period.
These figures mean drivers and passengers are nearly four times as likely to die in a traffic accident over Labor Day weekend when compared to a normal, non-holiday weekend.
These statistics should not leave you feeling helpless, however. The fact remains that you dramatically increase the likelihood of having a safe holiday if you follow these proven best practices.
1. Don't Drink and Drive
Labor Day weekend car fatalities this Labor Day are estimated to be at their highest since 2008. If you don't drink and drive, you dramatically lower your risk of getting into a dangerous accident.
Drinking and driving is against the law and carries serious legal consequences in New York, but more importantly, it needlessly endangers your life and the lives of others.
2. Don't Let Distracted Driving Ruin Labor Day Weekend
On Labor Day, most of us are excited to hit the road and have an adventure with friends, family, and loved ones. This means texts are likely to light up your phone as phone calls are a similar constant if you are going on a road trip.
Avoid the urge to text and drive or answer that phone. Distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in 2015 alone. Don't let your Labor Day or anyone else's get ruined by answering a text or phone call.
3. You're Not a Pirate: AKA Avoid Boating Under the Influence
The New York and Tri-State area often see a very busy weekend on the water, due in no small part to the fact that Labor Day weekend tends to unofficially signify the end of beach and boating season. When the weather is nice, thousands of boats in the area will be taken out on the water during the holiday weekend.
There is no reason not to enjoy the weekend on the water, but make sure to do safely. Not only is boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs against the law in New York (and all other states), it is also the leading cause of fatal boating accidents.
Pirates may have navigated the open seas with a bottle of rum in hand, but boating under the influence on crowded Tri-State waterways is a recipe for disaster that is both reckless and avoidable. Stay sober while serving as captain of your vessel, and you will likely have a safe Labor Day.
4. Swallow Your Pride and Wear a Life Jacket
Whether you avoid wearing a life jacket because you think you are a good swimmer or you think they are accessible on your boat, know that not wearing a life jacket at all times is not in the best interests of your safety. Accidents may occur unexpectedly, leaving you no time to grab that jacket or help others.
Maybe you think the life jacket cramps your style or is uncomfortable. Still, wear it. There is no good reason to avoid putting on a simple vest that dramatically increases the safety of everyone aboard the boat.
It is a sad statistic that 80% of fatal boating accident victims in 2016 drowned. Nearly 5 in 6 of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. Quite simply, life jackets save lives. Be sure to put a life jacket on yourself and your loved ones this Labor Day weekend if you plan to enjoy a weekend on the water.
5. Use Common Sense
Even once you arrive at a party or Labor Day event destination, common-sense safety tips should still be implemented for everything from fireworks to grilling. If you plan on using fireworks, for example, maintain a safe distance from spectators and avoid any and all horseplay. Young children should never handle fireworks, and a firework that fails to light should not be re-lit. These are the types of bad choices that lead to emergency room visits.
If a grill is in use, check a gas grill hose for cracks and holes that could pose a safety risk. Keep kids away from the grill and keep the grill away from tree branches or any other nearby areas that could catch fire. You wouldn't think so, but 16,600 patients went to the emergency room for gas grill injuries in 2014, according to a report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 1,600 of those injuries were to children under 5 years of age.
Avoid the obvious bad decisions and use common sense to make great memories this Labor Day while staying safe in the process.