Keeping Safe on the Roads This Fourth of July
The Fourth of July is one of the most dangerous time of year on the roads. Millions of Americans celebrate the holiday by gathering with friends and family to barbecue, drink, and watch fireworks. Unfortunately, many of these people will lose a loved one in an alcohol-related crash this Independence Day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), impaired driving accounted for almost 40% of traffic deaths during the July Fourth holiday in 2017.
When you’re driving on the Fourth of July, it’s essential to exercise extreme caution to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Plan Ahead for Fourth of July Travel
Planning ahead can go a long way in preventing a drunk-driving accident. If you’re hosting at a party, buy nonalcoholic beverages to encourage people to limit their intake. If you do plan to imbibe at someone else’s party, arrange to stay over for the night or have a designated driver take you home. Even one drink can be too many, and the risk you pose to yourself and others just isn’t worth it.
2. Keep an Eye on Other Drivers
Unfortunately, many people will choose to drink and drive home after their Fourth of July festivities. If you see a motorist who is acting recklessly on the road, they could be impaired. Drunk drivers may drive erratically, speed or slow down suddenly, or weave into other’s lanes. Even if the driver doesn’t hit anyone directly, they could cause a wreck as other motorists are forced to make last-minute maneuvers to avoid them. You should steer clear of the vehicle and call 911 right away if you notice these types of behaviors.
3. Avoid Distractions
Other drivers may have impaired judgement during July Fourth, so they may accidentally crowd your lane, stop suddenly, or make last-minute turns. It is essential to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Avoid distractions like:
- Texting or calling on your cell phone
- Handling the radio, GPS, or volume controls
- Using the CD player or video entertainment system
- Holding food or drink packages
- Brushing your hair or applying makeup
- Talking to other passengers
All of these things require focus and will keep you from giving the road your complete attention, diminishing your ability to drive defensively. Taking your eyes off the road for just one or two seconds can have life-long consequences if you were to collide with a drunk driver.
4. Adjust Your Travel Dates
Last year, AAA estimated that nearly 50 million Americans would be traveling on July Fourth. This leads to very congested highways, which will extend your travel time and increase your collision risk. If you are traveling out of town for the holiday, you might consider leaving a day or two beforehand to avoid the crowd. The fewer people on the road, the less opportunity there will be for accidents.
5. Keep to the Speed Limit
Speeding was involved in 26% of all fatal traffic accidents in 2018, according to the National Safety Council. Even small increases in speed can significantly increase your braking distance. This means that you may not be able to stop in time to avoid a crash, and the faster that you’re going, the greater the impact will be, increasing your chance of being seriously injured. It’s best to stay under the posted speed limit and slow down even further if you notice erratic drivers on the road this Independence Day.
6. Drive Defensively
A defensive driver is able to make safe driving decisions by being aware of other vehicles and adverse road conditions at all times. It’s more important than ever to drive defensively on July Fourth. This means you should:
- Maintain your focus on driving
- Ignore distractions inside and outside the vehicle
- Anticipate the moves of other drivers
- Know what to do if road conditions change
- Use your turn signal
- Follow the speed limit and all traffic laws
- Avoid tailgating vehicles
- Remain calm behind the wheel
The NHSTA reports that most fatal crashes involving alcohol occur in July than any other months of the year. Using the above defensive driving tips can help you minimize your risk and remain safe on the road.
7. Use Caution at Intersections
When approaching an intersection, it is extremely important to be aware of other vehicles that are coming from cross streets. Take the time to look in all directions before going through the intersection and only pass through when it appears safe to do so. You should never assume that an oncoming vehicle will stop at the red light as many impaired drivers will have diminished judgment and may not follow all traffic signals.
Been Injured in an Accident? Call a Lawyer
If you do happen to become injured in an accident this Fourth of July, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. They can review the circumstances of your case and help you navigate the personal injury claims process. If you try to handle the insurance company yourself, you may not receive as much compensation as you’re entitled to. Insurance companies are known to use deceptive tactics to get drivers to say something that will reduce their claim.
An experienced auto accident attorney will know how to handle the insurance company to maximize your compensation. They will help you gather any evidence you need to prove the extent of your injuries, and they will advocate for you in any settlement negotiations and even fight for your rights in court if necessary.
The Law Office of Kyle W. Jones represents the rights of car accident victims in Bakersfield and the surrounding Kern County. If you have been hurt due to another driver’s negligence, we will work hard to help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an auto accident lawyer.