For many, Independence Day translates to the ultimate celebration of summer. A long, hot day of swimming, BBQs, and time with family and friends is capped off by fireworks and a late-night drive home.
But these very celebrations also make our national holiday one of the most dangerous times of the year for roadway fatalities and alcohol-involved crashes.
Millions of Americans will hit the road for the Fourth of July, and high rates of drinking combined with more people on the road can lead to tragedy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), in 2014 alcohol was a factor in 41% of roadway fatalities during the July Fourth holiday.
And even though data shows that there may be fewer alcohol incidents when Independence Day falls on a Monday—as it does this year—officials still expect to see a significant increase in drunk driving and alcohol-involved crashes starting on Friday, July 1.
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe and make it to July 5:
- Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix. If pyrotechnics are legal in your state and you plan to light up a few sparklers and roman candles, make sure the person in charge is sober.
- Pace your drinking. Independence Day can be especially alcohol-fueled because many people start drinking early in the day and continue right up until the fireworks display. In addition, dehydration from July-level heat means alcohol can have an especially potent punch. Set a limit to the number of drinks you’ll consume and alternate with non-alcohol beverages.
- Drunk boating is as dangerous as drunk driving. Many people head to the lake to celebrate, but according to the CDC, nearly one-third of boating deaths are tied to alcohol. Most states have similar BAC limits for operating a boat and driving, so boat operators should hold off on the drinks until everyone is back on dry land.
- Make plans for a sober ride home before the day’s festivities start. Line up a designated driver, program a cab company’s number into your phone, sign up for a service like Uber or Lyft, or arrange to stay the night before you take the first sip.