Forth of July weekend is a great chance for Americans to chow down on hot dogs on their day off, enjoy the sun, and relax with friends. But holiday celebrators who have had a little too much to drink often abuse the holiday by driving drunk. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is incredibly dangerous and leads to thousands of car accident deaths and even more injuries each year. Over 4th of July weekend this year, state and local law enforcement agencies will crack down on drunk drivers, but the challenge lies with individuals to decide not to drive drunk, and to stop their friends and family members from making that same mistake.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2009, 410 people were killed in car accidents in only four days over 4th of July weekend. Of those, more than forty percent of the deaths were directly attributed to drunk drivers. This disproportionately high number indicates the trouble cities and states have reducing drunk driving during holiday weekends. But it’s no surprise that drunk driving is a serious issue all year long, and enforcement agencies should strengthen preventative measures to persuade potential drunk drivers to make the correct decision and call a cab when they’re intoxicated.
A look at the drunk driving statistics nationwide indicates that most states are lenient when it comes to drunk driving enforcement. And many of these states that are easy on DUI enforcement, are plagued by an abnormally high number of DUI deaths. South Carolina, for example, does not suspend the driver’s license after a DUI arrest, and requires ignition interlock devices only for repeat offenders, and a whopping 44 percent of total accident deaths in South Carolina are DUI-related. That’s compared to the national average of about 33 percent. DUI laws are a big stronger in states like California, which mandates a four month suspension after a first DUI offence, allows sobriety checkpoints, and has a pilot ignition interlock program in 4 counties.
But even the most progressive road safety states are not immune from staggering drunk driving fatality statistics. California, for example, mourns 1,029 drunk driving related deaths each year. Michigan, on the other hand, has much more lenient drunk driving laws and only 299 drunk driving deaths each year (albeit a much smaller population). So no matter what your state’s attitude toward drunk drivers, the best strategy is always to avoid drunk driving yourself, urge the same for your family and friends, and take extra precautions while driving at night, especially during holiday weekends.
So have a relaxing 4th of July Weekend, and remember to stay sober if you’re driving!
Photo credit: H.L.I.T.