If you work a regular fulltime job, you probably need no reminder that Memorial Day weekend is almost here. The three-day weekend is considered by many to be the start of summer and a chance to party, relax and maybe spend some time outdoors.
In Wisconsin, celebration is nearly always synonymous with alcohol. If that’s how you’ll be celebrating this weekend, consider yourself warned: Police will be out in full force looking to arrest drunk drivers. Memorial Day weekend is typically a period of increased OWI enforcement, and this year will be no different.
Of course, drunk driving is not just a bad idea for legal reasons. Long-weekend holidays like Memorial Day are also associated with a higher number of traffic accidents. According to a group called the National Safety Council, an estimated 382 Americans will be killed in car accidents between Friday evening and late Monday night. The NSC also estimates that traffic accidents will cause nearly 41,000 injuries during the same period.
In addition to drunk driving, law enforcement agencies will likely be on the lookout for other violations including failure to wear a seat belt. Enforcement of seat belt laws is a high priority in light of the fact that the devices can decrease the risk of an accident fatality by about 45 percent.
If the consumption of alcohol is part of your Memorial Day plans, please remember to take the appropriate precautions to avoid legal and physical danger. Coordinate with a designated driver (before the party begins) or pre-program the phone number of a taxi service into your smart phone. Public transportation is also an option.
Even if you don’t plan on drinking this weekend, please make safety a priority. Warm weather doesn’t last very long in Wisconsin, so you won’t want to spend your summer recuperating from an accident.
Please have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!
Source: National Safety Council, “National Safety Council Estimates Nearly 400 Fatalities from Crashes this Memorial Day Weekend,” press release, May 19, 2014