As we prepare to celebrate America’s birthday and our independence from the pandemic that has altered our lives for so long, we also should think about how to best shape our new path forward.
We all will be making choices in the coming days pertaining to Fourth of July celebrations. Will you go to the lake or throw a pool party? Will you attend a picnic or host a backyard BBQ? Will you ooh and aah as fireworks light up the sky?
If you’re going out, will you plan ahead for a safe ride home? You can choose safety, just as you choose freedom. Lead by example. Choose to play the role of a designated driver. Choose to promote driver and transportation safety and work to end impaired driving. As summertime travel peaks, tell your friends and co-workers before they depart, “We need you back.”
In the U.S., tragedies have defined the Fourth of July holiday driving period for too many people for far too long. Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows:
- 515 people died in crashes from July 3-8 in 2019, and 38% of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes
- 69% of those killed in alcohol-impaired crashes during the 2019 Fourth of July holiday period were involved in a crash involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration level of .15 or greater – nearly twice the legal limit
- 1,339 drivers were killed in crashes over the Fourth of July holiday period from 2015 to 2019, and 38% of them were alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08 or greater)
This is the time to prioritize road safety. We need to amplify our education and training efforts. Impairment begins with the first drink, and most adults reach .05 BAC after two or three drinks. At that level, crash risk is 40% greater than at zero alcohol concentration.
There is never a reason to take that kind of risk behind the wheel. Use our Traffic Safety Huddle piece to build a safety talk on Blood Alcohol Content. Play Impairment Jeopardy to engage employees and increase learning retention. Look under the “Driving Safety Games” heading on our Training Center page. Or, make use of the NHTSA social media playbook to spread safety messages on your channels.
During the pandemic, we learned to be more flexible and more resourceful in many situations. But crash fatality rates increased across the country, even as miles driven decreased, due in part to reckless driving and impaired driving. We can rewrite that narrative by committing to behavior change and examining our choices.
If we make good choices today, we should have no reason for regrets tomorrow.
– DeAnn Crane is a program manager with the National Safety Council