Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving--
Plan Ahead this Fourth of July to Save Lives
While celebrating our nation’s birthday should be a fun and festive event, all too often it turns tragic, as the Fourth of July is considered one of the deadliest times of the year on our nation’s roadways due to a rise in impaired driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle traffic crashes killed 392 people during the 2010 Fourth of July holiday period (6:00pm July 2- 5:59am July 6). Of those fatalities, 39 percent were in crashes that involved at least one driver ormotorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Tragically, 46 percent of the alcohol-impaired driving fatalities were 18 to 34 years old.
Nationally, more than 10,000 people were killed in impaired driving crashes in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That’s an average of one alcohol impaired driving fatality nearly every 51 minutes.
Impaired driving is even more fatal at night. During the 2010 July 4th holiday period, the proportion of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was almost five times higher at night than during the day. In fact, more than 80 percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities took place between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.
While these fatalities are devastating they are fully preventable. Contrary to popular belief, planning ahead does not mean you can’t still have fun. It means nothing more than taking responsibility and making a decision to keep you, your loved ones, and everyone on the road safe.
There are numerous ways to stay safe and celebrate responsibly. NHTSA offers these tips when planning a celebration:
Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend, or use public transportation;
* Contact your community’s sober ride program DD4Hire at 1-877-780-7384 or visit their website at www.dd4hire.com. Dd4Hire can even take you home in your own car.
If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local police department;
* And remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
Consequences from driving impaired are real. You could kill yourself or someone else, and financial costs from the crash or arrest are significant. In the end, the consequences of driving impaired simply is not worth the risk. Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving so make sure to plan ahead before the celebration begins.
For more information about how to stay safe this Fourth of July, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/Impaired.
Mary Beth Trevino is the Galveston County Community Coalition coordinator at the Bay Area Council On Drugs & Alcohol.