With July 4th approaching, take some time to think about being safe as well as having fun if you are traveling this holiday weekend. The Fourth of July travel window runs from June 30 to July 4, and, this year, it is predicted that a record number of Americans—over 44 million—will travel during this time.
Overall, approximately 1.25 million more travelers are expected to take a trip in 2017 compared to last year, making it the most traveled Independence Day holiday weekend of all time. Unfortunately, the Fourth of July is also consistently the deadliest day on the road for U.S. drivers, averaging over 118 deaths per year according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Why the Increase?
Many factors contribute to this spike in fatal crashes, but an influx of drivers on unfamiliar roads and alcohol-related crashes top the list.
According to a five year IIHS study completed in 2016, alcohol remains the number one contributing factor in nearly half of the incidents, with 47 percent involving at least one intoxicated person. The only recorded day of the year in which alcohol averages a higher rate of contribution is January 1, with 62 percent. The average daily total of alcohol related accidents across the U.S. is 35 percent.
Another aspect of Independence Day accidents is an increase in people driving in unfamiliar areas. This, combined with the increased number of drivers on the roadways, helps to spur the crash rate. According to AAA, a drop in gas prices this year is contributing to the 2.9 percent more people estimated to take to the roads over 2016.
Other factors are involved which contribute to the increased fatality rate for Fourth of July holiday collisions. These include not wearing safety belts—a 2015 study shows that only 88.5 percent of drivers buckle up—as well as speeding and distracted driving.
Staying Safe on the Roads for Independence Day
To help avoid being involved in any collisions while you are on the road this Independence Day holiday, here are a few tips to aspire to.
- Don’t Drink and Drive. Though this well-worn phrase may seem like common sense, it is often overlooked in the spirit of the moment. Remember, sometimes even one drink is too many when you plan to get behind the wheel. If you do intend to celebrate this season with a cocktail or two, have a designated driver in place. Also, remind friends and family members to do the same.
- Plan Ahead. Being prepared for hectic travel may be one of your best chances to avoid an incident. Research your route ahead of time so you don’t have to rely on a phone or another electronic device. In addition, try to avoid being on the road during peak travel times. Driving when it is less congested can diminish your chances of being involved in an accident or an aggressive or road rage driving incident.
- Maintain Your Vehicle. Summertime can really take a toll on your vehicle. Make sure your ride is road-worthy by practicing proper maintenance before you hit the road. This includes checking your oil, making sure your tires are in good condition, and maintaining coolant in your radiator. Proper radiator care can be crucial, especially when high temperatures and bumper-to-bumper traffic tend to increase incidents of overheating.
The Bottom Line
Whatever your plans are for this July 4th holiday, be cautious when traveling so your summer fun doesn’t get spoiled by an incident which could have easily been avoided.
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