What to watch out for on the roads this Memorial Day weekend

What to watch out for on the roads this Memorial Day weekend

It's supposed to be a time to kick back, relax and enjoy time with your loved ones, but all too often, the Memorial Day holiday ends in tragedy.

Nearly 32 million people traveling this holiday weekend will be driving, according to AAA, and the sad reality is that even with all the extra enforcement out there, some people will still get behind the wheel after they've had too much to drink.

With that many people on the roads, the odds of ending up in a deadly accident go up, too. Which is why experts say it's so important to be on the lookout for dangerous drivers.

"Unfortunately Memorial Day weekend has been a very dangerous time on the roads, especially in terms of drunk driving," Leslie Watson, affiliate executive director of MADD East Texas, said.

This weekend is the deadliest one of the summer, year after year.

In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) says 377 people died in crashes during the Memorial holiday. And the National Safety Council estimates there will be 382 traffic fatalities during Memorial Day weekend this year.

"When we see an increase in traffic volume, we see an increase in traffic citations going up...due to the number of vehicles that are out on the highway," Trooper Jean Dark with DPS said, "And it also then increases your likelihood of being involved in some traffic-related crash."

It's not just those who have had one too many drinks that we need to be worried about. Drivers are also more likely to be distracted.

"Whether that's cell phones, loud music, roughhousing with passengers, that sort of thing. Paying attention to what's going on around you," Dark said.

With an estimated three million Texans hitting the road this weekend, we have to worry not only about our own driving, but everyone else's, too.

"Unfortunately, we can't protect ourselves from every person on the road," Watson said, "But certainly if you're not driving impaired, you're sober, you've made a plan ahead, you're in a much better position not only to get yourself home safe but to be aware of what's going on around you."

So have a few cocktails and enjoy yourself, but have a plan before you have a drink.

There are some things to be watching for that could help save your life this weekend. 

If you see someone speeding up and slowing down a lot, swerving or making lane changes without signaling, driving with their headlights off at night or driving slower than 10 mph below the speed limit, those could all be signs of a drunk driver.

If you see those things, slow down, get behind the car and call 911 immediately.

Get a description of the car and a license plate number, if possible, and make sure you know where you are so you can tell police.

If you're caught drinking and driving here in Texas, you could serve serious jail time and be fined up to $10,000 dollars.


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