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Stay safe on the roads this holiday weekend

Thanks to five-year low prices at the gas pump and the desire to travel, nearly 42 million Americans will be on the road this weekend.

And that spells added danger for motorists.

AAA is predicting that 41.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from their homes this holiday weekend. Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel holiday and, according to AAA, more Americans are planning a holiday getaway this year than any year since 2007.

Why?

Well, we might have the economy to thank for that. Rising employment and low gas prices are two key factors. In fact, seasonally adjusted national averages for a gallon of gas remain around $2.77, which is more than 90 cents less than the national average for 2014. That means travel is affordable for more Americans. And, in turn, we’re going to take advantage of that opportunity.

Law enforcement personnel know this, and added patrols will be in force throughout the holiday weekend, checking for everything from drivers under the influence to those not wearing seatbelts. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation and Drive Safe Alabama, these are two of the most common causes of vehicle crashes and, sadly, highway deaths. In fact, 59 percent of all people killed on Alabama highways were not wearing seatbelts.

Add into that the dangers of distracted driving, and you have a trifecta of dangerous situations. According to the federal government, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2014 involving distracted drivers, and more than 424,000 were injured.

Even more frightening is this statistic: at any given daylight moment in America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or manipulating electronic devices while driving – a rate that has held steady since 2010 (U.S. Department of Transportation).

So we have more drivers, more cars and more potential dangers on the road this weekend … and before you get behind the wheel to join them make sure you stay sober, buckle up and put down that cellphone.