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Reminding drivers to be cautious as summer travel season begins

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Posted at 5:43 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 17:43:25-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — "Use caution and exercise good judgment."

It's the message to all drivers as we head into Memorial Day weekend. It's the unofficial start of the summer travel season, but it also marks the start of what road officials call "The 100 deadliest days of summer."

According to New York State Police, Western and Central New York saw 31 deadly collisions during the 100 deadliest days last year. The number of fatalities in each? Sometimes doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled

"Distracted, alcohol is always a factor, but what we saw last year in the 100 deadliest days were people simply not seatbelted in their car," New York State Trooper James O'Callaghan said.

Despite the holiday weekend, AAA expects a record low number of travelers, but with low numbers, you could see more reckless driving.

"With less traffic, people are picking up the pace," O'Callaghan said. "It's like running, there's no guide person."

O'Callaghan says since the COVID-19 Pandemic began here in Western New York, the number of speeding tickets has actually gone down because of fewer people on the road, but he also stresses speed limits are there for a reason.

"It's amazing how many hundreds and hundreds of feet it takes to stop your car by every five miles an hour you go," he said. "Even if it's a thruway or a parkway or something like that, you can't stop your car in the event of something happening."

It's why drivers need to stay alert. While AAA encourages people to stay home they know there's built-up cabin fever, and with a new wave of distractions, awareness is so important.

"We have the face masks, we have hand sanitizer, we have the gloves, we have the cords to listen to podcasts, we have the phone," Elizabeth Carey, Director of Public Relations for AAA WCNY said. "There's more and more distractions behind the wheel."

So be safe, be cautious, and be smart so that this holiday weekend and summer is an enjoyable one.