The Fourth of July weekend brings out the best of Americans as we celebrate the birth of our country and gaining our independence from the English.
However, Independence Day festivities also bring out the worst of Americans. The July 4th weekend is typically the number one deadliest holiday weekend in terms of DUI injuries and deaths.
Americans love to celebrate independence with an alcoholic beverage or seven, but that doesn’t make it alright to follow that up by getting behind the wheel of a car and potentially becoming a 2,500 pound weapon of destruction.
While you may do your part, that doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to do their part. So here are some Independence Day/Fourth of July weekend driving tips:
- DO NOT DRINK & DRIVE - No matter if it is one drink or you are helping finish off one bottle of liquor. Getting behind the wheel after drinking is not a good idea, especially on this weekend. For one, there are always more checkpoints and DUI stops set up on this weekend in order to get reckless and dangerous drivers off the road. You don’t want to get caught up in one of these stops and give the officers any reason to test your BAC level.
Plus, even just having one drink can begin to have an affect on a person’s concentration and reaction time. While you may not be over any legal drinking limit, that one tenth of a second of reaction time could save you from a crash, especially if you are trying to avoid a driver that is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Have a designated driver. Or if everyone wants to drink, hire a driver for your group or plan ahead to take public transportation or a taxi or Uber or Lyft or any other option that will get you home safely. The cost of a taxi is much less than the cost of a funeral or even the cost of getting a DUI.
- Avoid impaired drivers – If you notice that someone else in front or beside you appears to be driving intoxicated — struggling to keep it between the lines, making harsh jerks of the wheel, switching lanes erratically, etc — then slow down and keep a safe distance from them.
If you feel more safe, pull over to the side and let them get a good distance away before getting back on the road. DO NOT attempt to pass them. You never know if they might sideswipe you or speed up and try to re-pass you. If you keep a safe following distance, have a passenger in the car report the vehicle to the police.
- Wear Your Seat Belt – You can’t always avoid a crash, but you can always be smart enough to wear your seat belt to assure that you stay within the confines of the car, where you are more likely to sustain less injuries than if you are jettisoned through the front windshield.
- Get some sleep! – I am a terrible offender when it comes to attempting to get a full night of sleep. But it is imperative to get a solid night of sleep if you are going to be making a long drive or if you have been up partying the night before. You can not drink and still become a dangerous driver. Drowsy driving is the second leading cause of driving fatalities.
If you feel like there is the potential that you may start nodding off, pull over and take a little nappy nappy or at least stop at a gas station and get some coffee or an energy drink (granted that doesn’t work for everyone and shouldn’t be substituted for adequate sleep).
- Stay flexible – Feeling tired and think you should pull over? You’re much less likely to do the right thing and get a power nap in if you HAVE to be at grandma’s house at an exact time. Instead of having to be at certain places at certain times, don’t be afraid to tell people MAYBE. That way if you end up having more to drink than you had intended, you can spend the night…or if there’s a really cute girl/boy that you meet at a friend’s party, you won’t have to rush off to be able to make your next destination.
If you can follow these Independence Day driving deadlines, you should be able to keep yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road a little bit safer.