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Safety Tips for the Road on Busy Memorial Day Weekend

Drivers are cautioned to be patient this Memorial Day weekend, the most dangerous time of the year to be on the road. (sockixxx/Twenty20)
Drivers are cautioned to be patient this Memorial Day weekend, the most dangerous time of the year to be on the road. (sockixxx/Twenty20)
May 23, 2018

FARGO, N.D. - North Dakotans will join folks from across the country gearing up for vacations this Memorial Day weekend. Nearly 42 million Americans will be traveling, according to the American Automobile Association, the second-highest it ever has expected.

Higher gas prices won't be a deterrent; seven out of 10 travelers say they will be driving. With so many cars on the road, the auto group has some tips for staying safe. Gene LaDoucer, public affairs representative for AAA North Dakota, said patience will be a virtue getting out of town this weekend.

"Whether it's boats and campers heading to the lakes or campgrounds or in metro areas where traffic combines with the normal commuter traffic, you can expect significant delays," he said, "so be patient, allow plenty of time to get to your destination, and put down all the distractions."

AAA also reminded people to make sure their cars are prepared for a long road trip by checking fluids and make sure your oil isn't too low. People should plan ahead as well, it said, so there aren't any unexpected surprises once they're on the road.

LaDoucer said people tend to drink more alcohol over vacation weekends. He strongly encouraged those who imbibe to designate another driver who does not.

"If you can't, maybe find a couch or a friend's house to sleep it off, but definitely do not hit the road after drinking alcohol," he said. "The roads are going to be busy enough and hazardous enough that we don't need impaired drivers out there."

Statistically, Memorial Day weekend is the deadliest of the year on the road, and drunk driving plays a big role in that. According to the website ValuePenguin, 40 percent of crashes over this holiday weekend between 2011 and 2015 involved a drunken driver; that's 43 percent higher than a normal three-day span.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND