Thursday, June 21, 2012

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving – Plan Ahead this Fourth of July to Save Lives

While the Fourth of July should be a time of celebration with friends and family, too often it ends tragically with a death that could have been prevented. Sadly, this holiday is one of the deadliest holidays of the year for alcohol impaired driving crashes.

In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities in Van Buren County this July 4th, the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is reminding everyone that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving and challenging all drivers to plan ahead this July 4th to prevent them or a loved one from becoming another statistic.

Impaired driving crashes killed more than 10,000 people in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That’s an average of one alcohol impaired driving fatality every 51 minutes.

But the percentage of deaths from impaired driving spike around the Fourth of July. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 392 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2010 Fourth of July holiday period (6:00pm July 2- 5:59am July 6). Of those fatalities, 39 percent were in crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams or higher.

Too often when people are celebrating on the Fourth of July, they aren’t thinking about the consequences that their actions could have on their family or on others. As people gather with their family and friends to celebrate our Nation’s birthday, we want to remind you to plan ahead to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Designating a sober driver is one of the many ways they are encouraging people to stay safe this Fourth of July.

The amount of alcohol that one can consume during a day-long party or celebration can drastically affect the motor skills necessary to drive safely. Add the fact that everyone else is out celebrating, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Nighttime can be particularly deadly for impaired drivers. The proportion of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 was almost five times higher at night (6pm to 5:59am) than during the day (6am to 5:59pm). In fact during July 4th holiday period in 2010 more than 80 percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities took place at nighttime.

What is even more tragic about the statistics is that we see a high number of fatalities among 18- to 34-year-olds. Forty-six percent of the alcohol-impaired driving fatalities during the 2010 Fourth of July holiday period were within this age group. These are people who have their whole life ahead of them and in one instant, with one act of irresponsibility, they lose it all. It’s time for everyone to do their part and keep the roadways safe.

The consequences of driving impaired should be enough of an incentive not to drink and drive. There are numerous consequences that can result from impaired driving, such as possible jail time, insurance hikes, potential loss of driver’s license, harming and/or killing others, just to name a few.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition recommends these simple tips for a safe Fourth of July:
• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
• If you’re impaired call a sober friend or family member;
• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office;
• And remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

Just remember that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, so always be responsible. Never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. Designate a driver if you’re going to drink, call a cab or take public transportation if everyone in your group has been drinking. In the end, if everyone pitches in we can keep our roadways safe this Fourth of July.

For more information, please visit or You may also contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

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