By Debbie Hersman
The AAA projects 24 million Americans will be traveling 50 or more miles from home during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. The overwhelming majority will be traveling by automobile. Here’s what some young people are doing to help ensure drivers arrive at their destinations safely.
But, first, some background: When the NTSB hosted “Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” two years ago, then-member Kitty Higgins and I joined four young people for lunch. We learned that all four were Scouts — one was an Eagle Scout and the other three — all girls — were Boy Scouts. That surprised us! The girls explained that they were Venturers from a Germantown-Clarksburg, Md., Venturing Crew. (Venturing is a Boy Scouts of America co-ed program for youth aged 13 to 20.) As we talked about scouting and service projects, I challenged the group to take on projects that could help improve transportation safety.
Weeks later, the Venturers hosted a Memorial Day weekend Safety Break at an I-95 rest area. Throughout the weekend, about a dozen Venturers served more than 2,000 cups of coffee, about 1,500 hot dogs, and close to 1,000 donuts to travelers who stopped at the Maryland Welcome Center rest area. They chatted with travelers about safety. They talked about the new distracted driving laws in Maryland and distributed safety pamphlets on drowsy driving, motorcycle safety, drug- and alcohol-impaired driving, and on proper and consistent restraint use by children and adults. The young people worked around the clock over the weekend, helping raise awareness of important highway safety issues.
This year, I’m pleased Venturing Crew 125 will be out again at the northbound I-95 Maryland Welcome Center in Savage, Md. In case you’re not traveling through Maryland and won’t be able to hear tips from Crew 125, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Start off sober, alert, and well-rested.
- Limit driving periods and take periodic breaks.
- Buckle up and ensure children are properly restrained in an age- and size-appropriate safety restraint system.
- Put away cell phones and other distractions.
- Watch out for motorcyclists — and, if you’re riding one, wear a DOT-approved helmet.
- Be mindful of safe speeds and exercise courtesy and caution, especially around larger, commercial vehicles.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend. Here’s to the great work of the Boy Scouts of America and here’s to you getting to and from your destination safely!