Labor Day traditionally signals the end of the summer season here on the Outer Banks. As such, it is the time when people take one last opportunity for a summer vacation. They may visit family and friends, throw a backyard BBQ or, hopefully, head to Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Avon, Hatteras Village Ocracoke and all of our great Outer Banks destinations.

Since many of people’s Labor Day activities are of a celebratory nature, alcohol consumption is common among adults. Although responsible drinking over the holiday weekend is acceptable for many people, drinking and driving not only puts drivers, but many other innocent lives at risk.

According to USA Today, Labor Day is one of the U.S. holidays that ranks among the deadliest for drunk driving. In the past 20 years, between 400 and 450 people have lost their lives on average each year, and thousands of others have been injured in vehicle-related accidents taking place over the long Labor Day weekend. Many of these were victims of accidents in which alcohol played a key contributing role.

Documents from the NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Marketing reveal that over the Labor Day weekend in 2013, 48 percent of the 424 crash fatalities that occurred across the nation involved drivers who had a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher, and 38 percent involved drunk drivers or those with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. These documents also show that one of every five passenger deaths involving a child under the age of 13 was caused in a drunk driving accident. In 71 percent of the cases, the driver in the child’s car was the individual who was driving drunk. One of the most tragic aspects of alcohol-related accidents is that they are entirely preventable.

DWI Crackdown for Labor Day

If you or your family plans to hit Eastern North Carolina or the Outer Banks this Labor Day weekend, be aware of the drunk driving enforcement crackdown that will be taking place across the nation between August 19 and September 7.

The NHTSA and local law enforcement have committed to widespread action to dramatically reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents over the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend. The goal is simple – they want to save more lives. The campaign slogan, and what drivers can expect, is “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

What You Can Do to Minimize Your Drunk Driving Accident Risk

Those who are planning to travel over the Labor Day weekend can significantly reduce their risk of a drunk driving accident by following these tips:

  • Always designate a sober driver who can take you and your friends where you want to go.
  • If you cannot find an individual to be your sober driver, call a taxi, use a car service or stay at a hotel nearby where you plan to celebrate.
  • Never let other people drink and drive. If you notice a family member or friend who is about to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages, take that person’s keys away and help find another transportation option.
  • Be alert when driving and watch out for drunk driver warning signs. If you do what you can to avoid distraction, and not drive while tired or drowsy, to increase your chances of being able to avoid a potential collision.
  • Stay a safe distance from other vehicles. This will help give you enough time to come to a stop or swerve to avoid a collision.
  • Do what you can to avoid driving at night or in the early morning hours. Most people drink in the late afternoon or evening hours. If you avoid driving during these times of day, you can reduce your risk of encountering a drunk driver. Even if you plan on staying home over the Labor Day weekend to host a BBQ or party, make sure you either opt for a “dry” event with alcohol-free beverages, or you remind your guests to monitor their alcohol intake. You may want to consider offering either a place for people to stay or a sober driver to take people home if anyone overdoes it. We want you and your guests to have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.