Beware! Entire Population of Venezuela Driving on US Roads This Weekend.

memorial-day-drivingMore, actually. Venezuela has 31 million people, but something like 33 million drivers will take to American roads this Memorial Day weekend to visit friends and family or just get away.

We could have said “the entire population of Morocco” (33 million) but somehow “Venezuela” sounded more dramatic.

In any case it’s a lot of people, and plenty of them will be on unfamiliar roads, in crowded cars full of stuff, surrounded by distractions. You can thank the holiday, cheap gas, and a recovering economy for this year’s flood of Memorial Day driving.

4 Things to Watch Out for During Memorial Day Driving

If you’re joining this crowd, you need to think about a few things:

  1. Drunk drivers. There will be a lot of them, especially as the weekend wears on and the barbecues start. They will be doing unexpected things on the roadways, endangering themselves and other people, so watch out for them.
  2. Distracted drivers. Apart from people driving under the influence, you’ll see lots of people tweeting and Facebooking their holiday weekend highlights while at the wheel. Even drivers who avoid their cellphones will still be subjected to noisy kids and friends, family arguments, and other non-electronic distractions in the car.
  3. Road rage. Lots of people will be just plain angry and tired. They might drive aggressively, tailgate, or switch lanes more than necessary. Keep well back.
  4. Police will be out in force, working overtime, looking for the above drivers. They’ll have their breathalyzers, ticket books, and handcuffs at the ready.

5 Precautions for Safe Memorial Day Driving

Apart from watching out for things on the road, there are a few other measures drivers can take do to make sure your holiday is safe.

  1. Buckle up. It’s obvious, but a lot of people – especially young people – don’t use them, despite the fact that they reduce death and injury by 50 percent. Don’t start the car until everyone is buckled up.
  2. Don’t drink and drive. We know, it’s obvious, but we need to say it. Nevertheless, next week you’ll start seeing stories on how many impaired drivers were caught these next few days. Designate a driver. Have a plan that includes sober driving.
  3. Allow enough travel time. Haste causes bad driving behavior.
  4. Don’t drive if you’re drowsy. Fatigue compromises your driving faculties, just as alcohol does. Really.
  5. Avoid highways when possible. If you know a way to your destination that avoids the big highways full of out-of-towners, use it. The extra minutes it takes are worth it, since you’ll arrive less stressed.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day. All 33 million of you.