Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer (though we’re sure there are some students who might argue that it ended when classes started two weeks ago). Either way, many of us across the Kenai Peninsula are hoping to take advantage of the long weekend, and we’d like to take a moment to remind everyone to be safe out there.
First and foremost, summer’s last hurrah means one more weekend of increased traffic on Peninsula roads. Campers, hunters, fishermen and other recreationists will be headed out to the wilderness, and many of the rest of us will be visiting with friends and family for barbecues and other gatherings. If you’re going to be behind the wheel, it’s time to remember some of those winter driving habits. Hopefully, it will be a few more weeks before we’re dealing with snow, but it is getting cooler and dark. Make sure your headlights are in good working order — this is the time of year when moose are getting harder to spot.
Along those lines, it’s worth noting that Allstate Insurance released its Best Drivers Report this past week, ranking drivers in America’s 200 largest cities. Anchorage was ranked 132 on the list, with drivers there 15.3 percent more likely to be in an accident than the national average.
We generally don’t like to compare ourselves to Anchorage, but some of that driver behavior spills over here. Indeed, this week the Clarion reported the concerns of a Kenai resident who doesn’t feel her child is safe crossing at a crosswalk to get to school. We have more factors here that could contribute to an accident — less lighting, fewer traffic signals, harsher weather conditions — which means drivers need to be more vigilant.
And it should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway: if you celebrate the holiday with some alcoholic beverages, please, stay off the roads. Designate a driver, call a cab or stay the night. Likewise, everyone planning to enjoy the weekend in the woods or on the water, take the time to do one more safety check. Are the life jackets still on board? Is the first aid kit still stocked? Do the batteries in the flashlight that hasn’t been used all summer still work? Did you remember to leave a travel or float plan with a responsible friend who can notify authorities if you don’t return as planned?
When it comes to safety, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be considerate and attentive on the roads, and prepared for an emergency off of them. We should be proud of all of the hard work we’ve done over the past year; a celebration of that work shouldn’t end in tragedy.