Fourth of July Driving Safety: Know the Risks
Fourth of July is nearly a week away, which means many folks are gearing up for celebrations, parties, barbecues, extended vacations, and other events. While Fourth of July and the days surrounding the holiday can provide extra time for enjoyment, it can also introduce increased risks and hazards, especially on public roadways. In fact, statistics show that auto accidents increase during holiday periods like Fourth of July, and that Independence Day is always one of the deadliest holidays of the year.
If you have plans to celebrate our nation’s independence or get together with friends during the coming holiday, our legal team at Joey Gilbert Law would like to remind you about the importance of making safety a priority. Whether you will be driving or have made plans for rides, we still want to touch on a few key issues to help keep you and others around you safe whenever you venture onto public roads and highways.
- Drunk driving – Because alcohol-related accidents, injuries, and deaths surge over the Fourth of July holiday period, drunk driving is often the most pressing concern on our roadways during this time of year. In fact, crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that July 4th consistently ranks at the top of the list of days with the most auto accident deaths (118 per day between 2010 and 2014). Like millions of Americans, you may choose to celebrate with alcohol. However, you should never choose to drink and drive, as doing so can substantially increase risks of preventable wrecks and deaths. If your plans involve drinking, make sure you do so responsibly and that you plan ahead for a ride, whether this means designating a sober driver, calling a cab or using a rideshare service, or simply staying the night somewhere. This applies to any boaters as well; alcohol-related boating accidents also cause numerous injuries and deaths. Remember, drunk drivers can be held criminally culpable for breaking the law, and civilly liable for any injuries they cause innocent victims.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving is a danger at any time of the year, but the risks may be more pronounced during holidays when there is increased traffic on the roads and when more people are using their cell phones to organize parties and get-togethers. Unfortunately, texting and cell phone use are leading nationwide spikes in highway fatalities simply because they are the most dangerous form of distraction, commanding a driver’s visual, manual, and cognitive attention at once. Do the right thing by waiting to use a cell phone or send a text until you are safely off the road, and by always making the act of safely operating a motor vehicle your primary task. This means avoiding all forms of distraction, including eating and drinking, adjusting music, personal grooming, and talking to passengers.
- Increased traffic – The Fourth of July brings more people out for celebrations and events, and provides the added time for road trips, long treks, and vacations. That means our roadways typically swell with traffic, including out-of-state motorists who might not be familiar with local laws or roads. In fact, AAA reports that the Fourth of July typically sees 5 million more Americans on the road than Memorial Day. With increased traffic comes a greater need for vigilance. Remember to drive at a speed safe for the given conditions and traffic congestion, always use turn signals and make safe lane changes, and follow at a safe distance.
- More pedestrians – In addition to increased traffic on our roadways, the holiday also sees more foot traffic. Whether you’re driving through town or nearby a fireworks display or celebration, remember that there may be more pedestrians and bicyclists on the roads. Keep your eyes vigilant for pedestrians, especially at night, and always give them the right of way.
- Teen drivers – Teens and young adults are often out of school for the summer, which means they too will want to celebrate during the Fourth of July. Although they have more freedom, parents need to make sure teens always understand their rights and responsibilities as motorists. This is because the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer,” when teen-related car accidents result in roughly 10 deaths each day. Speak with your child openly about how they need to obey the law and stay safe on the roads, and establish clear rules if they intend to drive during the summer or during holidays like the Fourth of July.
- Tired Driving – If you are headed out on a long road trip or driving to attend a celebration, be aware of the risks associated with fatigue. According to traffic safety researchers with AAA, driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, and missing even just a couple hours of sleep can be equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit. Take breaks if you find yourself getting tired or take turns with another driver. When in doubt, pull over and get some rest if you feel your driving is being compromised by fatigue.
Making safety a priority is always crucial when venturing onto public roads, but it can’t always stop car accidents caused by negligent motorists. If you or someone you love has been injured in a preventable wreck caused by a negligent driver, our Reno car accident lawyers at Joey Gilbert Law are available to help you learn about your rights and what we can do to fight for the compensation you deserve. To discuss a potential case personally with a member of our team, call (775) 574-4774 for a free consultation.