100 Deadliest Days begin on Memorial Day

100 Deadliest Days begin Memorial weekend.

BOISE -- Memorial Day marks the first of the "100 Deadliest Days" and AAA expects more than 39 million Americans to be traveling over the long holiday weekend.

A holiday full of family, friends and fun, Memorial Day weekend is also a time when injuries and accidents spike and when hospitals see more patients with traumatic injuries. 

Doctors and law enforcement want to help you avoid a trip to the hospital - or worse. 

"Memorial Day can get pretty wild in that there are a lot of people cooped up all winter long and we've had a particularly long winter," Saint Alphonsus Trauma Services Medical Director Dr. Bill Morgan said.

This weekend is the first that a lot of people will be able to spend time traveling, heading out on the water or up to the mountains, doing activities they've been waiting all winter to do.

"They start to do things they haven't done in a while and they get hurt," Dr. Morgan added. "It's the first part of the year where we really start to see an increase."

Dr. Morgan says every year at this time he sees traumatic injuries from jet skis, ATV's and outdoor activities.

"The thing that is probably the most tragic thing that we see during Memorial Day is high speed motor vehicle crashes where alcohol is involved, and motorcycle crashes where alcohol is involved. And people who decide they want to jump off a cliff and they break their necks," he said. "You see these young kids all out together having a good time, not hurting anybody and they jump off a cliff and they break their neck and they come in and they're paralyzed for the rest of their lives."

As the temperatures rise and you're outside all day under the sun, doctors say you really need stay hydrated. It's easy to get dehydrated quickly, especially when you're drinking alcohol or sugary drinks. That can also escalate to heat stroke, which could send you to the emergency room.

Dr. Morgan says the volume of patients with activity-related injuries drops off on Monday because people are heading back home to get ready for work the next day.

"What's interesting is then we see the car wrecks of them coming back into town," he added.

With Memorial Day weekend marking the start of the 100 Deadliest Days of Driving, motorcycle and car crashes spike over the weekend - and many involve alcohol.

"The biggest thing we're going to be looking for are people wearing their seat belts, following too close - they need to be watching their following distance - watching their speed and not driving impaired," Idaho State Police Trooper Joe Gundacker told KTVB.

"Just understand when you drink and drive you might get to see me here and you may not want to," Dr. Morgan added.

Idaho State Police and all other law enforcement will be out in full force over the weekend and throughout the 100 Deadliest Days as more and more vehicles hit the road.

"It tends to be the time of the year where there is more traffic on the road, it's a little more congested," Trooper Gundacker said, "Last year we had approximately 85 people die in traffic crashes. So we would just ask people to be a little more vigilant and pay attention while they're driving."

 "Have a good time, that's what this weekend is all about. But just remember: wear a helmet if you're going to drive a motorized vehicle - off-road particularly, wear a helmet if you're going to ride your bike. And if you're going to go hiking, make sure you've got plenty of water and a buddy with you so if you fall someone can get in cell phone range and get you help," Dr. Morgan said.

As always, ISP encourages travelers to plan ahead before they hit the road in order to give themselves plenty of time. This year, after a winter of heavy road damage, officials are urging Idaho drivers to pack plenty of patience for the trip because emergency road repair and new construction projects are in full swing across the Gem State.

If you are planning on camping over the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management has some suggestions to stay safe and have a good time.

With many higher elevation campsites still closed from the harsh winter, more people may be trying to get a limited number of lower-elevation sites. BLM advises heading out early as most of their sites are open and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. They want visitors to stay on existing roads and trails and slow down around corners. 

Idaho Parks & Recreation officials say boaters should be cautious on the water. Launch access, including to fuel and docks, are being impacted by water management and fluctuating lake levels. There is also a lot of debris from excessive run off.

The only ramps available for launching this weekend will be Turner Gulch and the west ramp and Spring Shores Marina.

The Bureau of Land Management offers camping safety tips and advice for planning your trip here.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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