The Independence Day holiday weekend is the second major summer holiday (with Labor Day being the third). Next weekend, millions of Americans will take to highways to travel to destinations for the long weekend. While gas prices are likely to remain unseasonably high, it is not expected to deter people from travelling. After all, with joblessness rates being at their lowest since 2007, more people are expected to take on a bit of debt to enjoy the holiday.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 40 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles to a destination. The large majority of those will travel by car (80 percent). With additional vehicles on the highway, the chances of accidents increase. The National Safety Council estimates that there will be at least 41,000 auto accidents and 385 deaths due to car crashes over the holiday weekend.

Because of this, it is essential that drivers keep safety at a premium. Here are some helpful tips on how drivers can stay safe.

Put down the phone – Despite national campaigns and legislation banning distracted driving, many drivers still use their phones while behind the wheel. Perhaps the easiest way to avoid crashes during the holiday weekend is to limit distractions caused by using a cell phone while driving.

Drive for the conditions – It would not be surprising to have thunderstorms forecasted for our region next week. With that said, it is important for drivers to maintain safe speeds for the conditions. Cars can hydroplane in less than an inch of water at speeds over 60 miles per hour, according to a report by

Get plenty of rest – It may be tempting to power through in order to save time in getting to your destination, but drowsy driving is nearly as dangerous as drunk driving.

Source: USA “AAA: Fourth of July travel increases 1.9%” Larry Copeland, June 26, 2014