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Stay safe this Labor Day weekend

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- According to the National Safety Council, each year more than 41,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents, and another two million suffer disabling injuries.

Labor Day is the holiday that marks the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. You've got the car loaded up with the kids and the dog, or it's you and some of your friends, in any case, you're headed out of town to enjoy the three-day weekend with a little fun in the sun.

We all want to have fun this Labor Day weekend but it's important for every Airman, civilian, and contractor who is a member of the Air Force Space Command family to remember not only to have fun, but to also be safe. If your plans don't include a wingman, set it up so both you and your wingman know where the other is going.

Before you head out of town for your weekend of fun, the Department of Motor Vehicles suggests surfing the Internet for road advisories. Many states now make their traveling advisories available online. You can find information such as up-to-the-minute traffic reports, construction details or little-known travel tidbits.

While planning a holiday getaway, many people think it isn't important to let others know where they are going because they think nothing bad is going to happen to them.

Airman Edward J. Dibona, who is with the safety office here, said letting people know where you are headed and your route is the responsible thing to do. In the event of an accident this information is critical. Also, by letting people know your estimated arrival time you can help alleviate worry.

Letting people know your destination and route can be very important if you plan to travel during the night. The NSC says the number of traffic accident deaths is three times higher at night.

It is imperative to watch the weather, since this could significantly delay your arrival time at your destination. The DMV suggests watching the weather prior to your trip and plan accordingly. If you see there are storms in the forecast, allow yourself additional time to reach your destination.

Whether you are driving during the day or during the night, the NSC states that drivers should be cautious, aware and responsible.

Not everyone decides to head out of town for Labor Day. For those who are staying in town, know that accidents can happen close to home.

"Statistically, most traffic accidents occur within five miles of a person's home," said Airman Dibona. "Even when traveling in the local area, during a holiday, keep in mind that the number of drunk drivers increases. Keep off the roads between midnight and 3 a.m."

The NSC indicates that alcohol plays a part in nearly half of all motor vehicle deaths. Being on the road Friday or Saturday nights will put you at a higher risk of being involved in an alcohol-related accident. The NSC also states that more fatal crashes occur on weekend nights than at any other time during the week.

Finally, many travelers think just because they are traveling in another city or town that it isn't important to obey local traffic laws and regulations.

It is especially important to follow the traffic laws no matter where you are. What you may be able to get away with on the road at home, may not be OK on the road in other towns. If the posted speed limit is 55 mph, don't drive 60 or 65 mph.

If you happen to be traveling on a motorcycle and the law requires you to wear a helmet, then you better wear your helmet. Airmen who ride motorcycles should know that it is mandatory for them to wear their personal protective equipment no matter where they are.

It doesn't matter if you are a good driver or not, NSC states that high speeds; impaired or careless driving; and not using the seatbelt, not only puts the driver at risk, but also puts other passengers at risk.

For additional tips and information on traveling this holiday weekend please contact your base's safety office. You can also visit the DMV Web site at www.dmv.org or the NSC Web site at www.nsc.org for more information.

Making sure you and your wingman remain safe over the Labor Day weekend is vital to Air Force Space Command and our Air Force family. Co-workers, family and friends all count on your safe return to work Tuesday. Losing just one person can be detrimental to the command and what we do on many different levels.