It’s Labor Day- a great holiday weekend, not only for you and your family, but for the other drivers sharing the road with you. I’m Bill Mizner, Chief of Police for the City of Norfolk and I want to remind you it’s always a good idea to slow down, focus on your driving, and drive defensively.

billmiznerThis weekend provides many people an opportunity for one last summer getaway and the most important part of the weekend is to drive safely.

The National Safety Council estimates 395 people will be killed and another 47,800 will be seriously injured in car crashes during the upcoming Labor Day holiday period, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4 and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7. The three-day period falls in the midst of what could be the most deadly year on our roads since 2007. The National Safety Council estimates overall traffic deaths are up 14 percent through the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. Serious injuries are up 30 percent.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 87 percent of vehicle occupants wear seat belts. The 13 percent of drivers and passengers who do not wear belts accounted for 44.7 percent of fatalities in 2014, according to NHTSA. An estimated 150 lives may be saved this Labor Day holiday because of seat belts. NSC recommends buckling up every trip, every time – even when traveling a short distance.

Other tips to ensure a safer Labor Day holiday include:

  • Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation
  • Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
  • Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free
  • Do not allow teens to drive with their friends. A single young passenger can increase a teen driver’s fatal crash risk 44 percent.
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. The website mycardoeswhat.org can help drivers understand the ins and outs of features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning systems and backup cameras

The excitement and anticipation of the weekend can overshadow a driver’s responsibility to drive safely. There will be a lot of vehicles on the road, so it will be more important than ever to drive defensively.

Enjoy a safe Labor Day weekend!