Tips to Stay Safe on Labor Day Weekend, The Second-Deadliest for Road Users

In case you have been living under a rock for the past three months, we must inform you that summer is over. In the U.S., that means the Labor Day weekend is in full swing, which means many are planning various get-togethers, road trips, parties, and so on. Sadly, it also means an increase in road fatalities.
Crashed car and police motorcycle 13 photos
Photo: Matt Chesin on
U.S. road deaths at record highs in 2021U.S. road deaths at record highs in 2021U.S. road deaths at record highs in 2021U.S. road deaths at record highs in 2021Maserati Levante crashes into the underside of an overpassCar chaseMaserati Levante crashes into the underside of an overpassMaserati Levante crashes into the underside of an overpassMaserati Levante crashes into the underside of an overpassMaserati Levante crashes into the underside of an overpassMaserati Levante crashes into the underside of an overpassCar chase
It is important to point out that, from a road safety perspective, Labor Day is the official end of “The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” Unfortunately, there are many crashes on Labor Day weekend as well. According to NHTSA statistics, in 2019, 433 people were killed during the Labor Day weekend, with thousands more injured.

When you compare this to an equivalent non-holiday period weekend, that is an increase of 37 percent in road fatalities. Back in 2019, it was the second-worst weekend to be on the road, with 133 deaths per day. That is just a bit more than a bus full of people a day. On Memorial Day weekend, it got even worse, with 139 deaths per day, which is 139 too many.

With all those figures in mind, you are wondering what you can do to stay safe. Fortunately, the same advice for being safe on the road applies on Labor Day weekend as well. The first thing would be to never drink and drive. Second, do not get in a car with someone who has been drinking that day – do not be shy to ask if they have.

U\.S\. road deaths at record highs in 2021
Photo: Laguna Beach Police Department
Moreover, plan before going to a party, and think how you and your friends are returning home. Unless you have a trusted designated driver, which is someone who you can trust not to drink after saying they won’t, do not take your or their car there. Instead, find a solution to arrive using public transit or a taxi, and get a cousin or family member to drive you all back home.

I cannot stress this enough, as 38 percent of all fatalities incurred during car accidents over the Labor Day weekend involved an alcohol-impaired driver. That means almost four in ten fatalities were caused by drivers who have consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Mind you, the risk is still present even if you do not get in a car with someone who has been drinking, as the vehicle you are in might get hit by a drunk driver.

In the latter case, pedestrians are not safe either, so keep your eyes open for vehicles that are driven faster than normal traffic, as well as for those that seem to struggle to keep a straight path.

Maserati Levante crashes into the underside of an overpass
Photo: CHP Oakland / Instagram
The idea here is to not depend on other drivers to do the right thing. Instead, expect them to be at their worst, always. You need to train your mind to have an “escape route” if the situation goes from bad to worse, and that may mean letting others go by you while you keep your distance.

That extra bit of space will make the difference if someone is tailgating, and they encounter an aggressive driver. You might just be able to slow down in time, avoid their crashed cars, pull over after their place of impact, and ask if they need you to call an ambulance, and then leave if they don’t need help.

Another important thing that must be done every time to stay safe is to always buckle up while in a vehicle and be sure to be seated correctly in the car.

In other words, no feet on the dashboard, do not hold your knees in front of your face while having the soles of your feet on your seat. Also, do not get someone else to sit on your lap or vice versa, and so on.

U\.S\. road deaths at record highs in 2021
Photo: IIHS
If a vehicle has five seats, it only seats five people. The sixth person will be a cannonball in the event of an accident, and they might die or accidentally kill someone else in the vehicle. Is it worth it? It never is.

The same applies if you are the driver of a vehicle – do not let too many passengers in, one of them may fall on another, distract you, and cause an accident. It’s your fault if it happens, not theirs.

Leave ahead of time, which means that there is no need to hurry on your way, and be sure to expect congestion and traffic on roads that lead to popular venues.

Keep calm, as everyone wants to do the same thing – get to the place as fast as possible, get what they wanted from that place, and then get home safely. Remember that last bit. Everyone wants to get home safely, but mistakes get made in the process.

Make sure that your vehicle has all its lights operational before driving off, as well as ensure it is in optimal overall technical condition. We left this part for last, as we know that you, dear readers, take care of your vehicles, so this is just a mention to you.
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Editor's note: For illustration purposes, the photo gallery shows crashed vehicles.

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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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