Ironically, Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, marked a time that Americans remembered those brave individuals who died in the service of our nation. However, many people today view the holiday as the start of the summer vacation season and a day to travel. Sadly, Memorial Day has become one of the most dangerous days on our nation’s highways.
This fact may be especially true for Texans. Texas State Police reported four fatalities related to this past Memorial Day crashes. Two car accidents occurred on I-95. Jose Nuñez died after his car lost control and collided with a concrete barrier, guardrail, tractor-trailer and a light pole. Twenty-seven year old Laura Kavazanjian lost her life when she was thrown from the vehicle in which she was a passenger. Teen Eric Mohamed was killed when his car went off the road and crashed into a tree. Motorcyclist Christopher Corona died when his bike crashed head-on with another vehicle.
Law enforcement responded to 260 traffic accidents during the weekend, many of which resulted in injuries. In one accident, five people were injured when a driver fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into stopped traffic.
Accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Some can be related to driver fatigue, while others involve distractions, impairments, faulty equipment or driver inexperience. Regardless, many accidents are preventable.
During the holiday, Texas police issued a number of tickets for riders and drivers in violation of the state’s seat belt law. As part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign, officers issued nearly 1,000 tickets for seat belt violations. More than 2,000 tickets were issued for speeding, and 70 drunk-driving arrests were made.
Crash-related deaths cost Americans $41 billion in a year. More than half of these costs are concentrated in only 10 states. Ranked in the elite 10, Texas shoulders $3.5 billion, which is almost 9 percent, of the nation’s medical and work-loss costs associated with traffic accidents.
Memorial Day marks the beginning of vacation and accident season. For drivers and their passengers to enjoy safe holiday weekends, each should recognize that wearing seat belts and avoiding driving impaired by either substances or fatigue actually can save lives.