The summer is marked with patriotic holidays, though the Fourth of July may be the hallmark of the summer. With a focus on the founding of the nation and spectacular celebrations dotting the Tampa Bay area, the Fourth of July is a great time to gather together, whether for backyard grilling or beach fireworks. While the focus of the holiday may be on freedom, there’s also a dangerous undercurrent. The Fourth of July holiday is the most dangerous for motorists.
Every year on the Fourth of July, an average of 119 people die nationwide in traffic accidents. Frequently, alcohol is involved. Almost half of the accidents on the Fourth involve alcohol and more than 20% of fatal accidents involve a motorcycle.
Don’t let a car accident put a damper on your holiday. Here are some tips for staying safe on the roadways this Fourth of July.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Beer and alcohol feature prominently in many Fourth of July celebrations. Before reaching for a cold one, make sure you have a plan for getting home. Have a designated driver or grab a cab home. Drink plenty of fluids and eat up. You’re more likely to get drunk when you’re dehydrated or hungry.
Defensive driving is an important safety tactic that’s beneficial every day. The goal of defensive driving is to be aware of the vehicles on the road and to react appropriately.
A defensive driver:
- Anticipates other drivers’ maneuvers.
- Ignores distractions.
- Focuses on the task at hand.
- Reacts accordingly to the road conditions.
- Obeys speed limits.
- Follows at a safe distance.
- Does not react aggressively.
No one is a perfect driver 100% of the time, but we can all strive to be better drivers. By understanding the tenets of defensive driving, you are better equipped to handle various road conditions. They are not difficult to implement, though they do require vigilance. Consider starting small. In the age of smartphones and constant notifications, committing to ignoring your phone as you drive can make a difference in how you handle whatever other drivers throw at you.
As you’re paying attention and doing your best to be a responsive driver, you may notice another driver acting erratically. Perhaps they’re traveling well below the speed limit, failing to signal, driving in two lanes at once, or swerving in their lane. These are some of the telltale signs of an impaired driver. If you spot one, consider reporting them to the authorities.
Report Drunk Drivers
According to MADD, if you spot a drunk driver on the road, you should not approach them. Keep a safe distance or pull over if need be. If you have a passenger with you, have them get the following information:
- The license plate number of the car
- The make and model of the car
- The name of the road you are on
- The direction the car is headed
Your passenger can then call 911 and report this information and provide a description of the erratic behavior you noted. If you are alone in your vehicle and able to safely secure that information yourself, pull over and call the authorities.
Your safety is important. Don’t honk at a suspected drunk driver or attempt to signal them in any way. Consider taking an alternate route if one is available or pulling over temporarily.
The Fourth of July holiday shouldn’t be known as the deadliest holiday. Following these safety tips can help return the focus back to the birth of our nation and amazing founding fathers that crafted a new union.