Many throughout the United States will use the upcoming Labor Day Weekend to go on their last planned road trips and family outings prior to the holiday season. As we are all very much aware, Labor Day has a long history of being designated for such activities; one last opportunity to get out and enjoy the end of summer. However, with that excitement comes the downside of having to hit the road alongside what often seems like every other family in the city. As we would all like to believe that traveling over Labor Day Weekend will be a smooth and easy process, the reality is that Chicago has nearly three million residents and it will most certainly show this weekend. Not only will the traffic be far worse for those tempted to get out of the city and explore different parts of the region, but the drivers will be that much crazier and eager to get where they are going.
Similar to other summer holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, Labor Day has proven to be one of the riskiest times for a driver to be on the road. Ultimately, according to a survey of statistics available between 2011 and 2015, Value Penguin found Labor Day to be the second most dangerous holiday for drivers, with 308 fatal accidents per year. In comparison, the most dangerous holiday was found to be Memorial Day, which resulted in 312 accidents per year. To no one’s surprise, the cities that contributed the most to these alarming numbers were the likes of Houston and Los Angeles, where driving is essentially necessary anywhere you go. For a city like Chicago, where public transit is exceptional in terms of allowing residents to navigate downtown and the surrounding suburbs, this may not seem like as much of an issue; however, with so many people leaving and entering the city limits for their dose of late summer fun, the Illinois Tollway has stated that it now expects roughly 8 million vehicles to pass through the state freeway system, with around 2 million vehicles expected to be on the road on Friday. While those numbers seem almost comical, they present a harsh reality for those living in large metropolitan areas.
Patch Illinois recently wrote a piece on this same topic regarding the best and worst times to be on the roads for the upcoming weekend. The worst time to travel for drivers will be on Friday, August 30th as most people use that day for travelling to their destinations and plan on doing so early in the morning. Unfortunately, the issue for those hoping to beat rush hour and leave early is that most people travelling are thinking of doing the exact same thing. To put it lightly, traffic will be bad, and it will cause some to drive dangerously. Fortunately, there are a variety of sources providing great tips on things drivers can do to make traveling during this time of the year much safer.
Staying Safe While Enjoying the Holiday
We all want to enjoy the extended weekend and while traffic certainly puts a damper on the experience, USA Today has provided several key tips that may help make your experience just a little better:
- Staying Safe – USA states that “there are two major reasons for accidents on highways: losing concentration while driving and ignoring the risk of big trucks. While both factors are incredibly dangerous, the former poses even more risks to others on the roads. Many will be drinking and enjoying their extended weekend with family and friends, but it is necessary that you let others drive. Monitor yourself if you have been drinking and certainly don’t risk getting behind the wheel.
- Getting Your Car in Shape – “A routine check of the engine, radiator and fluids will go a long way. Tires should be well inflated and wiper fluid should be replenished. Also, check that the steering wheel and brakes work properly.” Ensuring that your vehicle is running properly and is equipped with all the proper safety features and measures necessary to drive safely is essential. Not only will your drive be far more difficult if a mechanical issue occurs, but you become part of the problem when you are forced to pull over those three lanes of traffic in the middle of rush hour. Be sure to have your vehicle maintenance up to date and keep yourself going to your destination.
- Avoiding the Madness – “The most important thing you can do is leave early. Take on the highways early Saturday morning or before rush hour on Friday. If you’re driving on Labor Day, follow the same rules. Most people will brave their return home in the early evening or late afternoon. Try getting to the highways before 4 p.m. or after 10 p.m. and you should be in much better shape.” Although we previously said that the traffic will be bad no matter what over the weekend, you really are putting yourself in a better situation as far as traffic and safety goes. City drivers are already notoriously “wild” in terms of following the laws of the road, the smaller number of drivers you can be around during one of the busiest traffic days of the year, the better.
Overall, we have a responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe, just like any other day of the year. Just know that there will be dangers out there and drivers will be incredibly eager to get to where they are going. Following these tips is just a start for making your Labor Day weekend that much better. Stay safe out there and enjoy the holiday!