NJ Memorial Day Weekend Deaths Underscore Dangers of Holiday Driving

Once again, the holiday honoring the nation’s war dead has been marred by fatalities on New Jersey highways. Over the 2023 Memorial Day weekend, several members of a family were killed in Andover when another driver crossed a roadway centerline and struck their vehicle head-on. In Jersey City, a woman died after her car hit several other vehicles. There were also numerous non-fatal crashes throughout the state.

These sad events illustrate how summer holidays are among the deadliest traffic days of the year. Highways and streets are crowded with automobiles headed to beaches, parks and other attractions. Drivers weary from long road trips might lose focus or even fall asleep at the wheel. Inexperienced teenage drivers are out of school and spend more time on the roads. Intoxicated partygoers pose a hazard to everyone on or near the roadway. Independence Day celebrations result in the second highest rate of drunk driving fatalities of all major holidays (the first-highest being New Year’s Eve).

It’s vital to keep this harsh reality in mind when venturing out onto the highways during these peak traffic periods. Observing the following practices can go a long way to helping you avoid accidents:

  • Drive defensively — Be extra vigilant and on the lookout for drivers who seem to be exercising poor judgment or moving erratically. Routinely check your rearview mirrors. Many people injured in car accidents are hit from behind. Also be aware of pedestrians, bicyclists and obstructions that might appear suddenly on the roadway.
  • Stay sharp — Try to drive while you are at peak performance levels. Avoid driving after drinking or taking medications that affect attention or reflexes. Make sure you are sufficiently rested. On a long highway trip, take frequent breaks for refreshment.
  • Avoid unsafe driving times — Late night to early morning hours (between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.) are prime times for drunk drivers to be on the road. Also try to avoid driving when your intended travel route is most congested. Crowded roadways are major contributors to accidents. It is better to drive on during less traveled periods, such as two days before and after the holiday weekend.
  • Maintain your vehicle — Keep your vehicle in optimal working order, including your battery, ignition system, brakes, tires, lights and windshield wipers. A vehicle suffering a stall or breakdown is a perfect target for a collision, especially if the disabled car is in a traffic lane.

If you do get into a car accident, try to get out of traffic and onto the road shoulder if possible. If not, get yourself and your passengers to safety. Call 911 to obtain police and medical attention if anyone has been injured.

Seigel Law in Ridgewood is one of northern New Jersey’s premier automobile accident law firms. If you or family members have been hurt in a crash, call 201-444-4000 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.

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