Use caution on the roads for Labor Day travel

The Labor Day holiday weekend is one of the most traveled weekends during the summer — third behind Independence Day and Memorial Day.

This year, as gas prices continue to drop, millions of motorists will hit the roads for the holiday weekend.

As drivers set out on that last road trip of the summer, AAA is urging motorists to avoid speeding, distractions and impaired driving; additionally, drivers and all passengers should be buckled up.

The majority of traffic crashes can be prevented. According to NHTSA data, in 2017 impaired driving, distracted driving and speeding accounted for slightly more than half of all traffic fatalities. In addition, passengers failing to buckle up also led to fatalities.

“With greater numbers of drivers expected on the roadways, it’s crucial for motorists to make safe and responsible decisions when getting behind the wheel,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokeswoman, AAA — The Auto Club Group.

AAA offers these tips for safer travel:

— Plan ahead. Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced. If unfamiliar with how to get to a destination, program navigation ahead of time, before getting on the road. Make sure the phone battery is completely charged and have a charger in case of an emergency. Have an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle.

— Leave early. Drivers who have the flexibility should travel during off-peak hours. Based on prior holiday trends, Friday afternoons are busy days to travel. Traffic also is expected to be heavy late Monday afternoon.

— Be patient. Follow the rules of the road, as more motorists will be on the roadways than usual, with many in unfamiliar areas. Get plenty of rest before setting out on a road trip and schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy.

— Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. Avoid distractions such texting while driving — this is illegal in 48 states — or even reading a text while driving. Also, be aware of the dangers of cognitive distraction while driving. Hands-free and in-vehicle technologies can mentally distract drivers, even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. Drivers should designate a passenger to serve as their official text messenger and navigator.

— Buckle up: Make sure all passengers are wearing seat belts, no matter the seat they occupy in the car. This simple action can save lives in a crash.