Labor Day is an excellent time for Louisianans to get one more three-day weekend at the end of summer. However, like many holidays, Labor Day also marks one of the deadliest weekends for motorists on the roadways. Therefore, any Louisianan planning a long trip during the upcoming holiday weekend should be aware of the safety hazards Labor Day poses to many motorists.

Labor Day Driving Statistics

Labor Day weekend experiences some of the worst driving crashes, injuries, and fatalities during any calendar year in Louisiana. The state saw a dramatic increase in 2021 for vehicle-related injuries and fatalities, and Labor Day was no exception. According to data compiled by Louisiana State University’s Center for Analytics & Research in Transportation Safety During Labor Day 2021:

  • 351 crashes occurred during the holiday weekend (September 04 through September 07).
  • 11% of crashes involved the use of alcohol.
  • Labor Day accounted for the third highest number of crashes in Louisiana, only behind Thanksgiving and Memorial Day.
  • Labor Day vehicle accidents caused seven fatalities and 551 injuries.

Labor Day Driving Safety Tips

Louisiana enforces its traffic safety laws like all states. However, enforcement is not always enough to ensure motorist, passenger, and pedestrian safety during holiday weekends, including Labor Day Weekend. Thus, motorists should consider the following safety tips to avoid a foreseeable tragedy.

Drinking and Driving

Drivers should drink and drive because it is illegal to drive under the influence in Louisiana. Drivers over the age of 21 must test below .08 blood alcohol level (BAC), which is usually one 12-ounce container of beer, one five-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5-ounce shot of distilled alcohol (whiskey, tequila, vodka, etc.). Further, it is against state law for minors to consume alcohol, for minors to test a BAC of .02 or higher, and to have an open alcohol container in a vehicle.

Texting and Driving

As cellular phone usage has dramatically risen in recent years, more drivers are getting caught texting while driving. Under Louisiana law, writing, sending, or reading any text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on any public road or highway is illegal. If caught, a driver faces a $175 fine for the first offense and a $500 fine for each subsequent offense. In addition, because texting and driving are considered a moving violation, motorists may also see a rise in insurance premiums after one or more violations.

Driving with Multiple License Holders

For motorists considering taking longer road trips, having two or more licensed drivers in the car is always preferred. This allows passengers to take turns while driving to avoid drowsiness during prolonged trips.

Sleep before Driving

Drivers and passengers should get plenty of sleep before getting into a car and driving for long periods. For example, under U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) guidelines, long-haul truck drivers are required under federal law to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break for every eight cumulative hours of driving to avoid fatigue. USDOT requires this to prevent truck drivers from being too exhausted to operate their trucks. Thus, following similar protocols for more extended driving periods is a good idea.

Maintain Motor Vehicles Often

Before any significant road trip, motorists should always perform essential vehicle maintenance. This can include topping off fluids, pumping air in tires, replacing malfunctioning light bulbs, and adequately cleaning windshields and mirrors. Further, motorists should always stock emergency supplies in their vehicles, including the following:

  • Jumper cables.
  • Spare tire or flat tire repair kit.
  • Tool kit with screwdriver, pliers, pressure gauge, adjustable wrenches, and vice grips.  
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Duct tape.
  • Vehicle fire extinguisher.
  • Vehicle jack.  
  • Towels, paper towels, or rags.
  • No-spill gas can.
  • Gloves.
  • Washer fluid.
  • Window breaker and seatbelt cutter readily available.
  • Non-perishable food items and bottled water.

Avoid Driving During Inclement Weather

Louisianans are strangers to torrential rainfalls, lightning-laced thunderstorms, high winds, and flash floods. Because Labor Day Weekend falls within hurricane season (typically June through November), Labor Day Weekend motorists should keep updated on any weather patterns that may render roads inoperable.

Avoid Rush Hour Traffic

Although holiday weekend traffic is consistently heavy throughout the day, it is best to avoid peak hours of traffic. Typically, peak traffic hours occur between 8:00 AM through 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM through 10:00 PM. Even though it is challenging to avoid holiday weekend traffic, motorists should try to travel during non-peak hours of traffic. Motorists should be mindful of traveling through large metropolitan areas like Baton Rouge and New Orleans during peak hours, where traffic is usually the heaviest.

What To Do After an Accident

Even the best motorists cannot avoid getting into an accident from time to time. Whether it was bad weather conditions, road construction, or a negligent driver, we all get unlocked once in and while. Once involved in a car accident, it is best to follow the steps below.

Contact Emergency Services

Emergency services should always be contacted for two crucial reasons when involved in a car accident. First, drivers and passengers involved in the accident may be injured and need medical assistance. Second, contacting emergency services, including the local police department, will allow the parties to make a police report documenting the accident. This allows the parties to obtain evidence when seeking additional medical treatment for injuries resulting from the accident.   

Document the Accident

Motorists should always trade insurance, registration, and contact information with the other driver. Further, once local law enforcement arrives on the scene, the officer will typically take witness statements and draft a police report. Usually, the officer will provide instructions on how to obtain a written copy of the report once completed. Parties should also take pictures of property damage and injuries.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Insurance policyholders should always contact their insurance as soon as possible. Because the insurance claims process can take weeks to months, initiating the process early allows ample time to address property damage and medical treatment claims.

Contact Legal Representation

Although many accidents result in insurance companies paying out on any damages, insurance companies will always find ways to prevent paying claims. In those instances, contacting an experienced Louisiana car accident attorney can provide legal services, provide proper advocacy to investigate accidents, address disputes, represent a driver’s interest in court, and resolve cases as efficiently as possible.