Celebrating our freedom with family, friends, great food and spectacular fireworks makes Independence Day one of the highlights of summer. However, with more people on the road and longer than average traveling distances, Independence Day has its risks when it comes to driving to and from your celebrations. Add the large amounts of alcohol consumed to the mix, and we see a much darker side to this beloved holiday.
During the Fourth of July holiday in 2015, 146 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, and nearly two-thirds were in crashes where at least one driver had a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, which is almost twice the legal limit. Based on an analysis of fatal crash data between 2010 to 2014, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that more people, on average, die in motor vehicle crashes on Independence Day than any other day of the year. In a study conducted by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was found that July 4th was the deadliest day on the road between the period of 1978 to 2002, with 4,320 deaths in total. In addition to this, July 3rd came in second place on the list, with a total of 3,898 deaths.
Before you head out this Fourth of July holiday, keep yourself, your loved ones and America’s roads safe by following these tips to minimize your risk of getting into a vehicle crash.
Take Preventative Measures
Even if you are the type of driver who keeps on top of having your vehicle regularly maintenanced, you should still schedule a preventive maintenance checkup with a qualified mechanic before you head out on a long road trip. This will help ensure that your oil level, tire pressure, wiper blade, lights and coolant level are in good working order. And if you’ll be driving in a hot climate or towing a boat or trailer, you may need a motor oil with a high viscosity.
Get a good night’s sleep before doing any long-haul driving, and only drive when you are well rested. Plan out a driving schedule with another adult, giving each of you a few hours of driving, and then a few hours of rest. Be sure to also keep a good supply of water and high protein snacks to keep yourself hydrated, nourished and alert. Getting lots of rest and keeping energized will keep you from getting drowsy behind the wheel.
When traveling with children, take every precaution to keep them safe. This includes having children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat, as well as making sure that car seats and booster seats are properly installed and that any children riding in the vehicle are in the correct car seat, booster seat or seat belt that is appropriate for their size.
Lastly, make sure you have any necessary items you may need while driving in organized in one spot and in a place that is easy for you to reach. This means having your GPS loaded with your destination and your music already set up. Additionally, if you are traveling with children, bring along some items that will keep them entertained, so they don’t distract you while you’re driving. This includes things books and tablets loaded with games or movies.
Avoid Dangerous Driving Behaviors
Being distracted or impaired when driving is extremely dangerous and can even be fatal.
During long road trips, it’s tempting to find something to distract you when driving starts to feel tedious, but one moment of attention loss can cause a crash. When you’re the driver, you have the responsibility of maintaining your safety, as well as that of the passengers in your vehicle, which means it’s imperative for you to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Phone calls, text messages, emails and social media can wait.
When it comes to driving impairment, a major cause of it during the Fourth of July holiday is alcohol. Fourth of July celebrations typically entail heavy alcohol consumption. In fact, more beer is sold on Independence Day than any other holiday, including St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve. During the 2016 Fourth of July holiday, about 68 million cases of beer were cracked open.
We’re free to celebrate however we please, but driving after having a few drinks should never be done. Even if you’re just buzzed or tipsy, alcohol impairs the perception, judgment and memory that a person needs in order to drive safely. Be responsible, and don’t get behind the wheel. Additionally, illegal and prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can be as deadly as alcohol. Too many lives are lost in preventable traffic crashes involving drunk and drugged driving. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way by driving while you are impaired.
Make Arrangements for Transportation
If you plan on drinking over the Fourth of July holiday, consider making arrangements for transportation. Figure out who your designated driver will be if you’re traveling with a group. If you’re traveling solo, you may want to take a cab to your destination and also add the contact information of various taxi companies around your destination’s area to your cell phone, so that you can hire a cab to get back home.
Another safe option would be to hire a car or chauffeur service. Many offer a variety of vehicles, so you’ll be able to find something that suits your needs, whether you’re traveling solo, with a few friends or part of a large group. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind being driven by a professionally-licensed chauffeur trained to keep you safe.
At EmpireCLS, our vehicles range from sedans and SUVs to luxury Sprinters and mini coaches. Our vehicles are garaged in a climate-controlled environment and consistently serviced and inspected by our in-house, Automotive Service Excellence-certified maintenance centers. To ensure the safety of our passengers, EmpireCLS chauffeurs undergo ongoing evaluation. At EmpireCLS, we:
- Conduct extensive Federal, State and DMV background checks
- Adhere to a drug and alcohol zero tolerance policy
- Perform psychometric exams to assess each candidate’s personality
- Provide recurring service training to maintain the highest level of hospitality
When you get behind the wheel, you are responsible for the safety of yourself, those who ride you and those who you share the road with. Celebrate the Fourth of July holiday safely by taking some time to prepare before you travel and by following safe driving behaviors.
And if you’re looking for an extra layer of safety, with the added bonus of being able to relax in a luxury vehicle on your way to your Fourth of July celebrations, get in touch with us to find out how we can help you set up safe, comfortable travels.