Feeling patriotic? Drunk driving crashes rise on the 4th

Independence Day is coming up soon as Birmingham residents plan vacations, parties and other festivities. Many families and friends will also celebrate their freedom to drink alcohol as part of the holiday.

Between beer at the barbeque and cocktails beneath the fireworks, there will surely be plenty of drinks to go around. Unfortunately, not every proud citizen uses this freedom responsibly.

How bad will the roads be?

Ideally, everyone who chooses to drink will plan ahead to secure a safe ride home. Based on previous years, however, this probably won’t be the case. The U.S. Department of Transportation calls Independence Day “one of the deadliest holidays of the year.”

In 2016, drunk drivers killed almost 200 Americans on the night of Independence Day. In half of these fatal crashes, the irresponsible driver’s blood alcohol content exceeded double the federal limit.

These figures don’t even include the number of nonfatal, but still serious, accidents. Such statistics show just how risky a ride – whether long-distance or simply local – may be this year.

How can other drivers and passengers stay safe?

Crashes involving a drunk driver are often a direct result of their intoxication, which means that many of these accidents aren’t the sober driver’s fault. While sober drivers can take precaution on notoriously boozy holidays, they are not able to control the actions of everyone else on the road.

Nonetheless, sober drivers may want to avoid traveling between 6 p.m. on July 4th and 6 a.m. the following morning. Intoxicated residents are more likely to be leaving parties and bars late at night. During this window, the USDOT reports that the intoxication level of drivers involved in fatal crashes is three times higher than in daytime crashes.

As a personal injury law firm, we see too many tragic cases of recklessness. There is nothing wrong with celebrating America with a drink – unless the patriotic party-goer decides to break the law and gamble with the lives of their fellow citizens.

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