Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. The National Safety Council recently released its estimates of fatalities from traffic crashes for the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 2. The Council estimates 394 traffic fatalities and another 42,200 medically consulted injuries may occur over the traditional end-of-summer weekend from motor vehicle collisions. With that in mind, planning ahead is essential for a safe and enjoyable trip.

The first thing we suggest is a simple check of the engine, radiator, brakes and fluids in your car. It is also a good idea to have a car emergency kit. A car emergency kit should include, at a minimum, jumper wires, a tire gauge, a flashlight, a tool kit with wrenches and screwdrivers, duct tape, rags, and an emergency stop sign or road flares. Add a first-aid kit, a bottle of water, a blanket and some energy bars in case something happens and you’re stranded for some time.

The second suggestion includes knowing your exits by name and number prior to heading out on the highway. Drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit often cause accidents.

The third involves driving around large trucks. Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.

For the fourth, we suggest you use a map or GPS. Surprisingly, few motorists plan their routes, even when driving through unfamiliar areas. Knowing the road is essential for safe driving.

The fifth suggestion is to leave early and avoid risks. Leaving early will allow for delays in your travel schedule. Know your limitations; don’t drive when tired, upset or physically ill.

The last is to buckle up and don’t drink and drive. An eye opening statistic is that every three hours a crash will claim the life of someone who was not drinking and driving. In fact, in 2011, 3,371 people were killed in drunk driving crashes who were not the drunk driver.

I would like to emphasize that drunk driving remains a serious issue today. It is a deadly crime that can destroy the lives of everyone involved. The question for law enforcement is what to do about it. The answer is to step up enforcement. So, from August 16 to September 2, more than 10,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country will be out in force to crack down on impaired drivers for the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign.

Law enforcement officers will be vigilant in looking for the signs of impaired driving and committed to the zero tolerance enforcement effort. We ask that you don’t take the risk and utilize a designated driver or stay where you are if possible. Don’t become a statistic. The men and women of the Greenwood Police Department wish you a happy and safe holiday weekend. Chief Dawson.