Editorial – Be careful this weekend
Published 8:51 pm Friday, September 2, 2022
Perhaps the most underappreciated holiday, Labor Day is often forgotten until we are reminded that it affords us a three-day weekend, which is a far cry from its humble roots.
The first documented “celebration” occurred on Sept. 5, 1882, when 10,000 citizens marched the streets of Manhattan for labor rights, which were scarce at the time. In fact, the average American worked 12 hours a day six days a week. It would be another 34 years, until the passage of the Adamson Act in 1916, that the modern standard of an eight-hour workday was established.
Despite its name and the fact that the day is specifically dedicated to labor appreciation, not all employees — including first responders, hospital staff, retail and food industry workers and others — have the federal and state holiday off. We commend them for their service on Labor Day and every other day.
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The “unofficial end of summer,” Labor Day weekend is also reported to be the second busiest travel holiday (behind Memorial Day) with an estimated 137 million people leaving town. That’s a mind-boggling 53% of the country.
A little more than half, or some 70 million people, will travel by car. That means busy roads and dangerous travel conditions.
Virginia State Police is urging those traveling this weekend to stay alert, drive sober and wear their seatbelts.
“Last Labor Day, fatal crashes were half of what they were in 2020,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police superintendent. “Because one traffic fatality is too many, I challenge Virginians to achieve zero fatal traffic crashes this holiday weekend. The recipe is easy: Ditch distractions, drive sober, comply with posted speed limits, wear your seatbelt and be patient.”
VSP plans beefed-up traffic safety and enforcement patrols as part of Operation CARE (Crash Awareness Reduction Effort), a nationwide program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation continues through midnight Monday.
VSP is also participating in the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, an anti‐DUI enforcement and education program sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). A key piece is sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.
“When Virginians choose to get behind the wheel after drinking, they risk their lives and the lives of others,” Settle said. “Virginians statewide can expect to see more state and local law enforcement on the commonwealth’s roadways through the Labor Day holiday as we seek to deter and apprehend impaired drivers through DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols.”
On a weekend meant to celebrate the social and economic achievements of the American workforce, please do so responsibly and enjoy the last hoorah of summer.