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2020 was supposed to be the ultimate year for holidays. All of the major holidays aligned to give us all extended weekends. Unfortunately, this year will look a little different than what we all planned because of COVID-19. That doesn’t mean that we can’t make the best of our summer situation. Every Fourth of July, friends and families expect safe travel across the nation to visit loved ones, go on vacation, see fireworks, and take part in patriotic activities. However, July happens to be the most dangerous month to take road trips.
Why is the Fourth of July considered the Deadliest Day on the road?
During the Fourth of July holiday, there are more people on the road and longer than average traveling distances. However, adding a large amount of alcohol consumption during festivities can lead to a darker side of the celebration. There is an average of 118.4 lives lost in car crashes for the past five years. Alcohol is a factor in a majority of crash deaths with 47% of deaths involving at least one driver, bicyclist or pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08G/dL.
Traveling Safely for the Fourth of July
To stay safe this year and avoid an accident or ticket, here are a few tips to make sure that you have safe travel for the Fourth of July holiday:
Don’t drink and drive
A four day weekend is not a free pass to do drink and drive. Drunk driving is one of the top causes of road accidents in the U.S. If you plan on celebrating this weekend with a few drinks, make sure that you have a designated driver who will take you home or find another method of transportation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the Fourth of July is one of the deadliest days on the road due to alcohol use.
Don’t drink if you’re the designated driver
If you are a designated driver, you must be the person that doesn’t drink, not the one who drank the least.
Put the distractions away
Distractions may come in all forms. Whether that’s your phone, talking to passengers or through the phone or switching the radio station from something you don’t like. However, you should only do one thing well when driving: focus on the road. Make sure that all members in the car understand the importance of you concentrating on driving.
Take preventative measures
Safe travel for the Fourth of July weekend means taking preventative measures. Have a trusted mechanic check your oil levels, breaks, tire pressure before a long road trip. By doing so, you will be taking care of yourself, the passengers and your car.
You can avoid getting lost, wasting time and gas by familiarizing yourself with the route prior to your trip. The best way to do this is by looking at the directions prior to your drive. If needed during the drive, have a capable passenger alert you or the driver about turns and exits. Avoid looking down at your phone at all costs.
This is a benefit every day, but the goal is to always be aware of the vehicles surrounding you and reacting appropriately to them. There will be a lot of families traveling during this time and some drivers might not be familiar with the area. Be prepared to make sudden stops or unexpected turns.
It is best to leave a three-second following distance from the car in front of you during good conditions. It should be more when driving conditions aren’t ideal. This is to help you recognize a hazard and have enough time to respond safely. Have an “escape route” when driving and when stopped at intersections. This means that you should scan and be aware of what cars are surrounding you and how much space you have in between you all. If there are motorists around you, assume that they might do something crazy and be prepared to avoid it.
Find alternative means of transportation
If everyone in your party wants to drink, make it a safe holiday and opt for calling a taxi or using a rideshare option, such as Lyft or Uber. These great options will ensure that you or anyone riding will have a safe trip.
Wear your seatbelt
Even if you do everything right, you can’t account for the actions for others on the road. While it might seem very straight forward and common knowledge, wearing a seat belt can save your life. Crashes can turn deadly when people aren’t wearing their seat belts. In fact, studies have shown that seatbelts are 45% effective in preventing fatalities among car occupants when used correctly.
If this isn’t a good enough motivator for safe travel, something to keep in mind is that you can get fined for failing to put your seatbelt on.
Parents can keep children safe by buckling them into a seat that is appropriate to their height, weight and age. Car seats lower the risk of injury in vehicle crashes by 82%, in comparison to seat belts alone.
Avoid the busiest times for travel
Since Independence Day is one of the major national holidays, expect there to be more traffic than usual. It might be a safe travel option to leave a few days before and after Independence day to avoid traffic. This might increase time spent on the road and you should account for the time that you might have to make up to get somewhere. You don’t want to find yourself behind schedule and thinking that you need to speed.
It is important to note what time of the day you decide to be out and driving. Drivers should be careful in the evening once the festivities are done and everyone else is headed back home.
Make sure to plan your route in advance. As mentioned above, this helps anticipate the traffic and will let you travel at ease if you happen to run into some scheduling problems.
If you have a long trip ahead, don’t forget to take breaks. It is recommended for drivers to take a 15-20 minute break every two hours on the road. Find a safe and quiet area if you start to feel tired. Safely park to let yourself sleep for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Don’t forget the speed limit!
Remember that speed limits are there to show the “target” speed in which to go in good driving conditions. Conditions such as weather, traffic and other environmental conditions can impact your speed.
You will alleviate the stress and pressure to disobey speed limits if you plan your trip ahead of time. This will increase your chance of safe travel.
Protect others on the road
If you see someone that is driving a little recklessly that leads you to believe that they might be under the influence, make note of the car’s make, model and license plate number. Pullover to a safe area and calmly call 911. Describe your location and the driver’s behavior as best as you can. You shouldn’t attempt to get the driver’s attention or stop the vehicle as this can cause an accident.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
No matter what you plan on doing this Fourth of July week, at The Carlson Law Firm we want you all to have fun and make the most of what we can during this holiday. Although you may take all precautions, we know that there are accidents. If you or someone you love was involved in a car, bicycle, or boat accident over the Fourth of July weekend, contact our office for a free consultation.
The Carlson Law Firm team understands that these types of accidents can leave long-term effects, from physical to financial to mental damages. We want to help you and be the support that you need.