UW Health Kids: Safe driving urged during Memorial Day weekend

MADISON, Wis. – The last place travelers want to end up on the holiday that kicks off the summer season is the emergency department.  

Slightly more than 37 million people are expected to travel by motor vehicle on Memorial Day weekend across the United States, according to AAA, which is 6% more than 2022.

More people traveling by vehicle means there is a greater chance for crashes, according to Rishelle Eithun, pediatric injury prevention program manager, UW Health Kids.

“This year with even more people expected to travel we all need to be prepared and take care of one another out there on the road,” she said.

Alcohol consumption is also common during summer holiday weekends, and a primary factor for automobile crashes any time of the year, Eithun said.

While alcohol is part of the culture in Wisconsin and elsewhere, that doesn’t mean it should ever be mixed with driving, she said.

“Designate a driver, or don’t drink if you plan to drive later that day,” Eithun said. “It’s more enjoyable for your family and friends if you can be there with them rather than ending up at UW Health’s level I trauma center.”

Drinking is a high-profile risk to holiday travel, but there are other factors that can lead to wrecks on the road, Eithun said.

In addition to keeping a vehicle in good working order, avoid other known contributors to crashes while driving this weekend, such as driving impaired by medications, drowsy driving, distracted driving and speeding, she said.

And, because crashes can happen at any time, make sure all passengers are properly secured in the vehicle by wearing seatbelts correctly and ensuring all children are in the car seat or booster that is appropriate for their size, she said.

“Wear a seatbelt, buckle up your kiddos, know when to take your medications before driving, keep distractions to a minimum, be well rested and obey traffic laws so you can get to your destination safely,” Eithun said.

Eithun is available for interviews today, and a recorded interview is also available.