COLUMN: Be careful on the roads this weekend

Submitted photo.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown.

By the time you read this, we’ll be about halfway through the Labor Day holiday weekend. Hopefully, you’ve had a safe weekend so far – and will continue to have a good holiday the rest of it.

Holidays are intended to be a time of relaxation, but I’m here to remind you that doesn’t mean totally letting your guard down if you’re traveling to somewhere and back. If you look at the National Safety Council’s estimate of traffic-related deaths expected over the Labor Day long weekend, you’ll see why. The NSC is estimating there’ll be 438 traffic fatalities this weekend. If you take the actual number of traffic fatalities for years 2009-2014, you’ll find a six-year average of 371. Even one accident is one too many; please be careful out there if you’re driving this weekend.

Being careful means not only watching how you drive, but also keeping an eye on the traffic around you and what those drivers are doing. I’ve talked to you many times about not letting yourself get distracted while driving. Allow time to get to where you’re going and have an alternate route in mind if it comes to it. Don’t tail gate other drivers because, if they hit their brakes, you’ll likely be involved in a rear-end collision. You don’t want to be the start of a bad chain reaction at highway speeds.

Come Tuesday and you’re back home, it’s still not a good idea to let your defensive driving guard down right away just because you made it home safe. The NSC will tell you there’s a higher likelihood of a fatal accident on the Tuesday following Labor Day Monday as compared to a regular Tuesday.

As always, keep our military and service personnel in your thoughts and prayers as we remember that the rights and freedoms we enjoy begin with their service and safekeeping of our great nation. May you have a Blessed Week.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.