The 4th of July is known for fireworks, food, and fun. Unfortunately, it is also a dangerous day to be on the road. Staying safe is as easy as keeping three areas of safety in mind: navigation, fireworks, and impaired driving.
Many families travel for holiday parties, concerts, parades, and fireworks shows. With events blocking or closing roads, increased crowd traffic, and road construction, navigation becomes an issue. Almost everyone knows not to use your cell phone when driving, but many drivers still do, especially when dealing with maps and GPS apps. The best thing you can do is put your destination on your phone before you start driving. As you are forced to make changes to your route, it will reroute for you. If you wait until you are in the middle of traffic or alternate routes, you put yourself and those around you in danger by not paying attention to the road.
The most well-known part of the 4th of July is fireworks. While they are fun, it’s also important to use a lot of caution. In areas where it is legal, families are often set off fireworks in the streets. It’s important to pay attention to this as a driver, so you don’t drive into the middle of a show or hit pedestrians that might be running in the street setting them off. Drive slowly and pay attention to everything going on around you.
If you are going to watch a firework show, it’s important that you watch for pedestrians on the way to the show and while you are leaving. When there are a lot of pedestrians, many choose to walk in the streets or cross to their vehicle without looking. Always drive slow through crowds and on nights when you know there will be a lot of people on foot around you.
The 4th of July is a party holiday. There are several ways to drive impaired that shouldn’t be ignored. The first is alcohol and drugs. Many people drink alcohol on this holiday, often staying up late to do so. You may think you are okay to drive home, but it is always better to have a designated driver arranged so that you can all get home safely.
The second common impairment is a lack of sleep. Since people get up early for parades or stay up late for fireworks shows that require darkness, there are a lot of drivers who aren’t well rested. A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that drivers who miss 1-2 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period almost double their risk for a crash. Get a full seven hours of sleep. If you notice yourself getting tired, pull off the road and take a quick nap.
Fireworks are the last form of impairment. They impair both your seeing and hearing from the bright flashes of light and loud booms. Whether it’s an aerial show or a smaller show that families do in the streets, the big flashes of light going off around you leave you unable to see as well for a few seconds. The explosions, screams, and hisses of fireworks can leave you with a slight decrease in hearing or a ringing in the ears. The lights and noises can also catch you by surprise and cause you to swerve. Drive slowly and with caution everywhere you are driving.