More drivers expected to hit the road for holiday weekend

More people will take to the roads than the skies this Labor Day weekend. (Source: Freedigitalphotos.net)
More people will take to the roads than the skies this Labor Day weekend. (Source: Freedigitalphotos.net)
With Labor Day being the busiest travel weekend, cops will be cracking down on drunk drivers. (Source: Freedigitalphotos.net)
With Labor Day being the busiest travel weekend, cops will be cracking down on drunk drivers. (Source: Freedigitalphotos.net)

(RNN) - Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends for road traveling, so planning ahead and being well prepared are essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

The National Safety Council (NSC) released estimated traffic fatality information for the upcoming Labor Day week, predicting 400 will lose their lives over the holiday weekend.

According to a press release from the NSC, for the past six years, the Labor Day weekend has averaged 14.6 percent more traffic fatalities than similar non-holiday periods.

With AAA projecting more Americans will drive instead of fly this holiday weekend, it's very important to be safe.

About 27.3 million people - 87 percent of holiday travelers - plan to take to the nation's roadways this Labor Day weekend.

However, the total number of travelers is expected to be smaller than last year.

"AAA is projecting a decrease in the number of Labor Day travelers as some Americans react to recent economic uncertainty and increasing air fares," said Glen MacDonell, director, AAA Travel Services in a press release. "While automobile travel is expected to increase slightly, if recent declines in gasoline prices continue through Labor Day, we could see an increase in last-minute holiday weekend travel."

[SLIDESHOW: Top 10 Labor Day Destinations]

Staying safe and following proper procedures could be life saving.

The Better Business Bureau offered some tips to make traveling on the road as safe as possible for drivers and passengers.

Get Your Car the OK to go

Go to a local auto shop to do a routine check of the car. Get all the fluids checked, air in the tires and especially make sure brakes are good to go. Inside all cars there should be an emergency kit that includes jumper cables, flash light, look kit, tire gauge and rags. A first-aid-kit is also good for backup just in case a bump in the road causes a bruise or a spilled drink. A bottle of water, band aids, blankets and meal replacement bars should be some of the bare essentials.

Always Drive Safe

Losing concentration while driving and not wearing seat belts is a hazard to the driver and passengers of the vehicle. Many people celebrate on Labor Day with a lot of alcohol indulging. Make sure the driver is alert and feeling good before the drive begins. If the driver ever feels sick or tired it is best to give the wheel to another passenger, but if no one else in the car has a driver's license, pull over and rest until feeling 100 percent. Make sure everyone is properly buckled up. This applies to every person in the car, including back seat and rear seats.

Avoiding Holiday Travel Madness

Having a good departure time is key when it comes to avoiding holiday traffic. Planning the route well also helps. Many car travelers have a GPS handy that can point out alternate routes by the touch of the screen. But if you're using paper maps, prepare before leaving for the destination by highlighting different routes. Obey all traffic signals and speed limits. Wherever traveling to, make sure you get there safe, not as fast as possible. If weather turns inclement during travel, drive defensively and exercise caution.

Along with making sure to stay safe while on the road, the National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration want to remind drivers to not drink and drive.

Since Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest and deadliest times on U.S. roadways, law enforcement will focus their attention on impaired drivers.

"While we have made great strides in reducing drunk driving over the years, tragically, drunk driving remains one of the leading causes of death and injury on America's roads," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press release. "Through our new national advertising campaign and stepped up law enforcement actions, we're sending a powerful message to the American driving public - Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."

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