BACODA REMINDS DRIVERS TO PLAN AHEAD THIS JULY 4TH WEEKEND
Angleton, TX - July 4th celebrations often include cook-outs, picnics, boating, time spent with family and friends and, of course, fireworks. But for too many families, this holiday weekend can be filled with tragedy instead of celebration. The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year when it comes to alcohol-impaired driving crashes on our roadways.
That is why the Bay Area Council On Drugs & Alcohol's (BACODA) Brazoria County Community Coalition is reminding everyone that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving and to designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin.
Statistics gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over the past 25 years show that, on average, nearly half of all deadly traffic crashes over each year's July 4th holiday involved some level of alcohol.
In fact, 410 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationally during the Fourth of July weekend in 2009. Of that number, 40 percent involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.
"The Fourth of July is a time most Americans spend celebrating with family and friends, but in order to keep someone you love from becoming another deadly statistic, each of us can do our part to combat one of America's deadliest crimes drunk driving," Coalition Coordinator Courtney Voss said. "We hope each individual will be responsible, designate a sober driver before the parties begin and will never get behind the wheel after they've been drinking."
All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have made it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher.
"Alcohol impairs many of the skills that safe driving requires, including judgment, concentration, comprehension, coordination, visual acuity and reaction time," Voss said. "Even driving 'buzzed' is simply not worth the risk to you or the thousands of innocent victims who are hurt or killed each year by drunk drivers."
Impaired driving is one of America's deadliest problems. In 2009 alone, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, accounting for 32 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That's an average of one impaired driving fatality every 48 minutes in 2009.
At 10 percent of the national fatality rate, Texas leads the nation with 1,120 alcohol impaired-driving fatalities in 2009.
Seventeen of those alcohol-impaired fatalities were in Brazoria County.
Voss also said that impaired drivers not only take the risk of hurting or killing themselves or someone else, the trauma and financial costs of an alcohol-impaired crash or an arrest can be significant. Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses.
"We want everyone to enjoy their holiday celebrations, but it's important when you or a friend are out drinking, to act on that knowledge by putting down your keys or taking a friend's keys to not let them drink and drive," Voss said. "And folks need to be particularly careful at night, because the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2009 was four times higher at night than during the day."
BACODA encourages a few simple precautions to keep themselves and loved ones safe:
. Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
. Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
. If you're impaired, don't get behind the wheel. Call a taxi, use public transportation or call a sober friend or family member so you are sure to get home safely.
. Contact the local sober ride program, DD4Hire at 1-877-780-7384 or visit their Web site at www.dd4hire.com. Dd4Hire can even take you home in your own car.
. If you see a drunk driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact your local police department - because you may just save someone's life.
. Remember, Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.
"Remember, Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, so whether you've had way too many, or just one too many, it's not worth the risk to yourself or others to get behind the wheel," Voss said. "Please plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the party begins."
For more information, please visit www.StopImpairedDriving.org. Or to find resources in your area, visit www.BACODA.org or dial 1-800-510-3111.
BACODA is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency that has provided substance abuse prevention and intervention services for over 35 years. BACODA's mission is to help individuals, families and communities stop alcohol/drug abuse and addiction. BACODA's services extend to Southeast Harris, Galveston, Brazoria and Matagorda counties. BACODA is a United Way Agency. For more information, visit www.bacoda.org.