The with the summer upon us, the time for traveling, festivities, and family reunions is now. And while most people think of fireworks, hot dogs, and family time during the summer, unfortunately, summertime holidays also likely spell disaster for highway safety. Drunk driving is of particular concern during the holiday period and law enforcement is encouraging all those celebrating any summer activities to follow traffic laws.
A Dangerous Holiday
While most of us were looking forward to BBQ and fireworks without any worries, the National Safety Council (NSC) reminds folks of the darker side of summer, particularly the Fourth of July holiday. Historically, the July holiday has been considered one of the most dangerous days times of year, particularly when the fourth falls on or around a weekend. With this year’s Independence Day landing on a Monday, there were sure to be numerous traffic incidents. In 2013, the NSC reported 540 fatal traffic accidents as well as 57,800 injuries during the holiday weekend.
Missouri Independence Day Statistics
A total of 953 crashes took place over the holiday weekend in Missouri last year. Of those crashes, 14 people were killed and an additional 427 were injured. That amounted to roughly one person being killed or injured every 10.5 minutes. The same year, Missouri troopers also arrested 127 people for driving while intoxicated.
Record Number of Travelers During the Holiday Weekend
According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), a record-breaking 43 million Americans were expected to be on the move during the July 4th holiday weekend. With gas prices low, consumer confidence strong, and an overall healthy economy, most of those travelers were going to be driving. In fact, AAA asserts that we’re already well on our way into a record-breaking year of summer travel and the gas price is almost 50 cents lower than it was a year ago. The holiday travel window of June 30th to July 4th was expected to have 10.7 percent more travelers than the average number 15 years ago. This is the third year in a row that travel has increased.
Missouri Holiday Safety Measures
The holiday period for 2016 began on Friday, the first of July and ended Monday the fourth. The Missouri Highway Patrol took extra measures to ensure the safety of all motorists over the weekend. In fact, all available Missouri highway troopers were out enforcing traffic laws, and were also available to assist motorists who were in trouble. Their efforts included a reminder to drivers to driver sober, obey all speed limits, wear seatbelts, and stay focused on driving.
If you were injured over the holiday weekend, or are injured in a car accident during the summer holiday, and need help or notice any criminal activity, contact the Highway Patrol troop headquarters. The emergency report line is 1-800-525-5555 or *55 from cell phones. In addition, drivers can check for road construction along any route by calling 1-888-275-6636.
Staying Safe While Driving
For some of us, of course, driving will be an inevitable part of the summer holiday. Use these 10 tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe while driving this season:
- Get your vehicle road ready – Any time you are heading out on a road trip, it’s important to make sure your car is in good condition. Take it into the shop for quick service and ensure you have proper tire tread and pressure, working lights, windshield wipers, and all fluid levels are correct.
- Alway buckle up – Everyone in your car, adults and children, should be buckled up or sitting in appropriate seating. Seatbelts reduce serious crash injuries and deaths by 50 percent.
- Secure pets – People aren’t the only ones who need to buckle up. If you are hitting the road with a furry friend, make sure they are also securely and safely being transported.
- Stay sober – Drinking and driving is the most reckless behavior you can engage in behind the wheel. It slows your reaction time and impairs coordination and judgment. Driving while intoxicated is a crime in Missouri as well as all other 50 states and it is illegal to have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. If you are drinking, choose a designated driver beforehand.
- Follow the speed limit – With so many drivers on the road, it’s highly likely you’ll be sharing the road with thousands of other impatient drivers. Relax and follow the speed limits posted. Speeding is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents.
- Get enough sleep – Driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. If you have a long trip ahead of you, make sure you get enough sleep. Pull over for a rest if you notice yourself becoming tired.
- Avoid distractions – Cell phone usage, eating, or paying attention to anything in the car that is not driving can be deadly. Especially if you are travelling to an area you are not familiar with, make sure you’ve planned your route ahead of time or programmed the GPS. Distracted drivers will likely be all around you, don’t become one of them.
- Exercise caution on rural roads – Drivers are statistically more likely to be in an accident on a rural road than any other so proceed with caution, particularly when it’s dark out.
- Load your vehicle properly – It can be difficult to fit passengers, luggage, and equipment into the vehicle and with every pound you add, you’ll be more unstable. SUVs, in particular, have a higher center of gravity and can tip far more easily .
Tips to Avoid Driving
If you want to avoid the travel mayhem, it’s relatively simple to avoid driving altogether. These days folks have the option of calling an Uber, Lyft, or any other taxi service to get them to their desired destination. Instead of going out, you could also consider hosting an event yourself and avoid leaving home.
Enlist the Help of a Car Accident Attorney
Driving hazards and car accidents abound on holiday weekends and, while we all hope we’ll get to our destination safely, it is not a sure thing. If you have been in a motor vehicle crash, contact Krause & Kinsman Law Firm to enlist the help of experienced Kansas City car accident attorneys. We’ll answer any questions you have and work hard to get you get a fair settlement for your injuries.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.