By Angela Fischer
Memorial Day marks the beginning of the ?101 Critical Days of Summer,? where more people are injured or killed in car crashes than any other time of the year.
This period starts the Friday before Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day. During this time, 35 percent of all fatalities and injuries of the year occur. The months of summer travel beginning with Memorial Day weekend are over represented in terms of incidents, said Robert Parenti, president of the Utah Safety Council. The Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the ?101 critical days of summer.? These days start the Friday before Memorial Day weekend and end on Labor Day.
?This is the high season with regard to travel and motor vehicle usage,? Parenti said. ?This period is marked with good weather, more day light and more people on the streets and highways. It?s vacation time and with good weather, people tend to increase their speed.?
In the United States, more than a hundred lives could be saved if all motor vehicle occupants were properly buckled up this Memorial Day weekend, according to estimates from the National Safety Council.
Locally, 21 Utahns have died over the past five years during this busy holiday weekend and the Utah Safety Council estimates that four Utahns may be fatally injured in crashes this Memorial Day weekend, Parenti said.
?We took all the fatalities that have occurred during the last five years during Memorial Day weekend to calculate an average of four fatalities that may occur,? he said. ?But, we certainly hope we will have none.?
Parenti said students should allow plenty of travel time to take frequent breaks and obey the speed limit.
?If in a hurry, students tend to speed,? Parenti said. ?Speed is a high contributor in fatal crashes. It?s a matter of physics ? the faster you go the harder you hit and the harder you hit the more likely to be injured or killed.?
He also said buckling up is the easiest and most effective way to be protected while on the road.
?Seatbelts don?t prevent crashes,? Parenti said. ?But they are extremely helpful in preventing severity and fatality in motor vehicle accidents.?
Parenti said to get plenty of rest and not to drive when tired or drowsy. He said drowsiness can reduce reaction time almost as much as drinking alcohol.
Nikki Redd, a BYU master student from California, is one of many BYU students planning on a road trip south this Memorial Day weekend. She plans to take caution in staying safe while driving to Bryce Canyon with her friends.
?We?ll take extra precautions this weekend and not take unnecessary risks or drive at night,? Redd said. ?Sometimes it?s easy to go fast when out in the open, but just knowing that it is an extra dangerous weekend, we will be especially careful.?
AT A GLANCE
Safe Driving Tips from the Utah Safety Council:
? Buckle Up!
? Allow plenty of travel time.
? Obey the speed limit.
? Keep a safe following distance using the three-second rule.
? Drive friendly and courteously.