Labor Day weekend 2016: deadliest for drivers in years?

(WEAU)
Published: Aug. 30, 2016 at 5:29 PM CDT
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Over the past 5 years, Wisconsin has averaged 8 deaths over Labor Day weekend. And this year, the National Safety Council says that number could rise and that this could be the deadliest Labor Day weekend in 8 years.

Traffic deaths have risen 9% between January and June this year compared to the same time frame last year, that's according to a report from the National Safety Council.

When asked whether this coming Labor Day weekend could be one of the worst when it comes to traffic deaths, Kirk Danielson with the state patrol was hopeful that it wouldn't be.

"We hope that it's not,” Danielson said. “We're doing a lot to make sure that it isn't. We will have some enforcement initiatives over the weekend. We'll have the airplane up in Eau Claire in this region throughout the weekend."

Changes on the roads over the past few years could be reasons for the rise in deaths on the road.

"With the increase in the speed limit and everything like that,” Danielson said. “We're basically saying the same thing we say most weekends: increase your following distance, obey the speed limit, don't drink and drive, expect heavy traffic and delays."

Some in the community think, since it is a holiday weekend, there will be more erratic driving and more people on the road in general.

"I think there's going to be a lot of traffic and people will be probably acting crazy a little bit more than they usually do with their friends,” Joseph Phillips of Mondovi said. “Probably some drinking could be going on."

"You just have to watch out for everybody else, inattentive drivers," Louie Dovas of Chippewa Falls said.

And while this weekend could be the deadliest Labor Day weekend with raised speeds and more traffic because of the holiday, the same precautions should be taken as if this weekend was any other weekend.

"The same things we try to stress every year: slow down, watch the speed limit,” Danielson said. “We try to tell people the speed limit is for good driving conditions, so if it's raining or if it's foggy, increase that following distance at least 2-3 car lengths."

Local law enforcement agencies received grant money for extra enforcement throughout the weekend to crack down on drunk driving.

If you do see any erratic driving, distracted drivers, or anything out of the ordinary, make sure to call 911. And of course, drive safely.