By Leah Walton, NTSB Safety Advocate
Labor Day, the annual celebration of U.S. workforce achievements, will be unique in many ways for Americans workers this year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many establishments have significantly reduced their workforces or even closed entirely. At the same time, workers deemed essential have put their lives on the line to serve their communities. Like Memorial Day and the 4th of July this year, Labor Day won’t be marked with large gatherings or parades; however, unfortunately, it will likely still look very similar to years past in terms of impaired driving and speeding-related car crashes, even with fewer people on the roads. The number of fatalities resulting from these crashes will likely look a lot like the 2018 figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reports that, during the 2018 Labor Day holiday period (6 pm August 31 through 5:59 am September 4), there were 166 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities, alone.
Back in April, we posted an impaired-driving blog reminding readers that we shouldn’t let the stress of COVID-19 allow us to lower our guard when it comes to safe driving, whether on a holiday weekend or during everyday transportation. In May, we kicked off the summer season with a safety reminder campaign (#safetyreminder) to highlight ways that we can all stay safe in the air and on the roads, rails, and water. The National Safety Council estimates 44,000 serious injuries and 390 deaths will occur as the result of all traffic crashes on our roadways during the Labor Day holiday. While we wrap up this #safetyreminder campaign this weekend, we hope that the safety reminders we shared will stay top of mind, and that they’ll stay there for the coming months.
This year, let’s celebrate the resiliency of the American workforce and honor all those who have endured employment hardships over the past several months. But remember: if your celebration involves alcohol or other impairing drugs, arrange for a sober ride home before you partake. Choose to be impaired or choose to drive, but never both. Some risks this year are harder to avoid than others, but impaired driving isn’t one of them. As always, it’s 100-percent preventable.