July 3, 2014 | Washington, DC
Friday, July 3, 2014
Contact: Kathryn Henry, 202-366-9550, Public.Affairs@dot.gov
WASHINGTON – The Fourth of July is a well-traveled holiday weekend that can quickly turn to tragedy when people celebrating Independence Day choose to drive drunk. Today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges all Americans to plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the party begins.
In 2012, 10,322 people were killed in drunk driving crashes and 78 of those died during the Independence Day holiday alone. In fact, over the past five years, an average of 40 percent of fatalities in crashes during this holiday were because someone chose to drive drunk.
Motorists are at risk for encountering someone driving drunk at any time of day, but the risk rises exponentially at night. During the Fourth of July holiday period in 2012, the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was almost 2.5 times higher at night than during the day. Motorists should be aware that law enforcement will be on the road protecting Americans by finding and pulling over drunk drivers.
Pedestrians and bicyclists should also be aware of the negative impacts of alcohol on their safety and their responsibilities in staying safe. In 2012, pedestrian fatalities rose more than 6 percent, reaching 4,743. Bicyclist’s fatalities also increased, with 726 lives lost and nearly 50,000 injuries. Slightly more than one-third of pedestrians and bicyclists killed in 2012 had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 of higher — above the legal limit to drive. NHTSA offers the following tips for a safe Fourth of July:
- Plan a safe way to get home before the fun beings;
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you can get home safely;
- Use your community sober ride program;
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact law enforcement;
- If you see people about to drive drunk, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely;
- Your best defense against a drunk driver is a seat belt. Always buckle up.
It is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.
For more information on drunk driving prevention, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.