Motorists prepare to face deadliest weekend

By By H. Rachel Graham

By H. Rachel Graham

According to a report by the National Safety Council, Memorial Day marks the beginning of the deadliest time of the year for motorists. Without taking some basic precautions, experts say U students might be taking unnecessary risks this weekend.

Over the past five years, 21 Utahns died during this busy holiday weekend, and it is estimated that four Utahns may be fatally injured this year, according to the council.

“Sadly, traffic crashes continue to be the leading cause of death in American children and young adults,” said Jeffrey Runge, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator.

The possibility of fatal accidents, however, will not keep travelers off the roads this weekend. According to estimations by American Automobile Association, about 80 percent-or more than 260,000 people-are expected to travel by motor vehicle. As expected, many of those travelers will be college students.

“I am not afraid to travel on Memorial weekend,” said Tom Meaders, a mechanical engineering student. “I would not want to fly because the airports are so busy.”

Detective Mike McPharlin of the University of Utah Police Department recommends driving defensively by being wary of other drivers. He also warns of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and sleepiness.

In addition, a representative of AAA recommends students have their cars checked out by a qualified automotive technician to avoid possible breakdowns.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Acting Regional Administrator Bill Watada says buckling up is the most effective and immediate way to save lives and reduce injuries from crashes on America’s roadways.

“We all must be a part of the solution,” Watada said. “It is simple to make sure you and everyone else in the car is buckled up on your Memorial Day trips.”

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