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Make Memorial Day travel safe: Buckle up & slow down

May 28, 2018 by Steven M. Gursten

We can prevent fatalities and crashes – and yes, even speeding tickets – with Memorial Day travel if we buckle up, slow down, and avoid distractions

Let's make Memorial Day travel safe and prevent accidents: Buckle up, slow down & no distractions

Memorial Day 2018 is here. All our attorneys and professional staff at Michigan Auto Law want to share our deepest gratitude to the men and women of the U.S. Military and their families for the sacrifices they make for us all.

Because the Memorial Day travel holiday is a busy one – with people on the road and traveling to cottages and to visit with family and friends all over the state – we also want to remind drivers to be particularly careful on the roads this holiday weekend so that Memorial Day celebrations are also safe.

First, please put the phones away. Texting and distracted driving is skyrocketing as a cause of far too many of the crashes that I litigate as a car accident attorney.

Second, avoid drinking and driving. There’s a lot of it this Memorial Day weekend, far more than there normally is. Don’t get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking.

Third, observe the speed limits. Speed kills. Physics play a role in car crashes when it comes to injury severity or the increased risk of causing a fatality. This may necessitate leaving for your destinations a little on the early side, but for everyone’s sake, it’s worth it.

And finally, wear those seat belts. Front and back seats occupants. Many people feel seatbelts aren’t necessary for back seat drivers. But, as I explained in my recent blog post, “Should rear seat passengers buckle safety belts?,” research shows:

  • “Unrestrained rear-seat occupants were nearly 8 times as likely to sustain a serious injury in a crash as restrained rear-seat occupants.”
  • “Drivers are about twice as likely to be fatally injured in crashes in which the left rear passenger [directly behind the driver] was unrestrained compared with crashes in which the passenger was belted …”

The Michigan State Police – in conjunction with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning – is stressing all of these factors in its “Click It or Ticket” campaign for the holiday weekend.

ABC 12 reported:

“With the holiday weekend right around the corner, law enforcement agencies have officially kicked off the nationwide [Click It or Ticket] safety campaign today. The campaign isn’t just about making sure drivers are wearing their seat belt, it’s about cutting down on distracted driving and enforcing the rules of the road. ‘I’ve had to see multiple fatalities of people that were not wearing their seat belt; they’d get in an accident, they get ejected from the vehicle, so we will have extra cars out on road, extra patrols, extra eyes looking for individuals not wearing their seat belts,’ said Trooper Amy Belanger with Michigan State Police.”

Memorial Day travel fatalities

In 2017, there were 10 car crash-related fatalities. This was increase from 2016 and 2015, which saw 6 and 8 deaths, respectively. However, 2017 was still a considerable improvement over 2014 and 2013, when there were 20 and 15 fatalities, respectively.

(Source: 2017 Michigan Holiday Traffic Fatalities, Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reporting Unit)

Why seat belt use is important during Memorial Day travel

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning reports:

“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,428 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes in the United States in 2016 – 203 in Michigan. The NHTSA estimates that seat belts saved the lives of 14,668 vehicle occupants age 5 and older nationwide in 2016.”

Additionally, Michigan Traffic Crash Facts data shows that seat belt usage “among fatal [car crash] victims” was lower in 2016 than it was in 2013.

Specifically, “restraint usage among fatal victims, where usage was known, was reported to be” 59.9%, 59.3%, 58.5% and 63.3% in 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively, according the MTCF’s “Quick Facts” for those years.

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