The summer is getting warmer and Independence Day is approaching. This is the time each year when we get to relax with friends and family, enjoy outdoor food and fun and, of course, watch fireworks.
It is also one of the most dangerous holidays of the year – drunk driving reaches an all-time high every year around the fourth. Be smart this year, drive safely if you’re going out on the roads, and do not get behind the wheel after drinking.
Fourth of July accidents on the rise
According to the US Department of Transportation, nearly 200 people were killed because of drunk drivers during the 2016 Fourth of July holiday weekend. That is more than one fatality every hour.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious risk; not only to the person driving, but to everyone else on the road. You may be the safest driver in the world, but that won’t affect an intoxicated driver who is driving erratically.
There are several steps you can take to drive safely during the holiday, including:
- Drive the speed limit– Rural roads are narrow, and high speeds lead to accidents. There’s no telling when someone will suddenly turn onto the highway or a tractor will be behind a blind curve.
- Avoid texting– Phone use while driving is one of the biggest causes of accidents today. Teenagers take the brunt of the blame, but adults text and drive, too. Stay safe, set your phone aside when driving.
- Use hands-free GPS– Much like texting, having to glance at your smartphone to see where to go next is dangerous. It’s much safer to designate a passenger as your navigator or to invest in a hands-free dashboard mount.
- Don’t eat while driving– In addition to busying hands that should be on the wheel, eating can be a major distraction for a driver. Eat before leaving for the festivities or pull over for a bite.
- Stop conversations if necessary– Engaging conversations are one of the best parts of road trips, but if you hit heavy traffic or need to negotiate difficult terrain, don’t be afraid to stop and pick up the discussion later.
- Be extra attentive to other cars– It’s on us to be extra vigilant when impaired drivers may be on the road. Use extra caution around cars that are swerving or not maintaining a steady speed.
- Use turn signals– This is something so simple but neglected by so many people. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, over 2 million accidents occur annually because of people not using their turn signals. Don’t be one of them.
These simple steps make more of a difference than many people realize, and every little bit helps during one of the most dangerous driving holidays of the year.
After an accident
If you are in an accident, make sure to exchange information with the other driver and call the police. Even if nobody is injured, it is always a good practice to get an accident report on record. This can be vital to insurance and potential court cases.
Make sure you also have legal counsel on your side before filing a claim with your insurance company. Insurance companies will often be happy to give a payout, but they are likely to undersell your damages. An experienced attorney will know how to secure a fair claim to cover vehicle repairs, medical bills and other expenses.
Drive smart and safe this Fourth of July and avoid any fender benders or worse. Have your plan for what to do after an accident ready, and have a great holiday.