Annual studies have shown that Labor Day consistently ranks in the top 10 most dangerous days of the year.
A report presented by the American Safety Council marked Labor Day as the 10th most dangerous day to drive. The holiday comes in behind other days such as Independence Day, New Year's Day and Dec. 23, two days before Christmas.
Sleepy's, a mattress retail company, took the report and conducted a study of its own. The company found that the main cause for accidents around Labor Day and other holidays is drowsiness behind the wheel.
The company's study shows that less then 50 percent of Americans stop to refresh themselves when feeling drowsy. Also, less than half of Americans fail to share the driving responsibilities with someone.
Sleepy's study has also uncovered other numbers: 28 percent of Americans consider drowsy driving “normal,” and 40 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 have said that driving drowsy is their normal state. In addition, 41 percent of holiday drivers are driving drowsy to reach loved ones, and 36 percent are driving drowsy to avoid being late.
Included in the study is a five-point list of tips for those planning a road trip. Tips include not skimping on sleep in the days before a trip, sharing the driving whenever possible and not using a phone conversation to keep awake.
“The important thing to remember is that these tips are important all the time; not just on Labor Day,” said Nancy Rothstein, a consultant to Sleepy's. “Sleep accounts for a third of our lives, and it greatly affects the other two-thirds.”
With an estimated 34.1 million Americans driving more than 50 miles this weekend, local leaders are also looking to minimize risks.
Lindsay Findley, executive director of Aiken Chapter of the American Red Cross, also provided travel tips.
She recommends carrying an emergency supply kit in the trunk, buckling up and observing speed limits and no drinking and driving.
“While many people will spend the Labor Day weekend traveling and spending time with family and friends, no one should take a vacation from safety,” she said. “It's still important that people work to remain vigilant on the road, at the beach and at cookouts.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.