Travel safely this Labor Day

Labor Day began in 1894 as a day for America to honor its workers.

It has changed significantly since that time. In addition to paying tribute to our country’s workforce, it also used to mean the end of summer vacation for students and the beginning of fall. However, for some time, many area public schools have resumed classes in mid or late August.

Now the holiday is simply regarded as a chance to have one last summer party, as well as the kickoff for the high school and college football seasons.

It’s good to celebrate the end of one season and the unofficial beginning of another, but if that party includes alcohol, remember to stay safe by not getting behind the wheel after drinking.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is warning drivers that troopers will be out in force this Labor Day weekend to remove impaired drivers from roadways.

According to the OSP, 13 people died in fatal traffic crashes in Ohio over the Labor Day weekend last year. Fatalities reached a four-year high in 2009, with 20 deaths recorded during the four day reporting period.

As this Labor Day holiday arrives, two national organizations are forecasting increases in both the number of travelers on the road and the number of deaths caused by accidents. AAA predicts that 34.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend, a 4.2 percent increase from 2012’s 32.7 million. Meanwhile, the National Safety Council forecasts 394 traffic deaths will occur this year nationwide, a nearly 6 percent increase over the previous year.

An improving economy and lower gas prices are the reasons for the predicted spike.

Labor Day is one of the top three holidays where alcohol related crashes and arrests increase, Ohio Highway Patrol officials said.

So, if your holiday weekend includes travel, and celebrations get out of hand, be sure to let someone else do the driving. If not, you may find yourself facing a costly OVI charge or, even worse, be involved in an accident that results in serious injuries or death.