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Thursday, July 02, 2009
Tips for Safe Summer Driving: Safety Tips for 4th of July
John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and our second president, wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, expressing his feelings on how the Fourth of July should be celebrated: "It should be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."
Commemorating our Independence should be celebrated with joy and great fanfare; however, for too many Americans, this holiday will have a tragic turn. To prevent becoming a statistic on this Fourth, here are a few safety tips:
Driving - This is a holiday that requires great patience behind the wheel. Wherever crowds gather, such as at the beach and fireworks displays, there are going to be traffic issues.
A long day at the beach under the hot sun will tire you out. To prevent fatigue and dehydration, make sure you eat well, and don't use alcohol to satisfy your thirst. Alcohol will increase your dehydration, and the hot sun combined with the dehydration will only compound the effects of the alcohol. Don't stay so long that you are totally worn out before you hit the road. If necessary, take turns driving home to avoid falling asleep behind the wheel.
If you attend a fireworks display, understand that when everyone tries to leave at once, there are going to be frayed nerves. This is where your patience will be put to the test. If someone tries to fight you for a parking space or an opening to get out onto the road, let them have it. The short amount of time it will cost you isn't worth a road rage incident.
This isn't the time to step on the gas in hopes of making it through that yellow light, nor should you step on the gas as soon as the light turns green. There will be a lot of drivers on the road who have been drinking, so you need to make sure that the intersection is clear before proceeding. Watch out for and avoid drivers who are driving erratically.
Boating - US Coast Guard statistics from 2007 show that there were 5,191 boating incidents, with 3,673 injuries and 685 deaths. The Coast Guard data showed that:
•Operator inattention, careless/reckless operation, passenger/skier behavior, excessive speed, and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in mishaps.
•Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating mishaps; it was listed as the leading factor in 21% of the deaths.
•Over two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, ninety (90) percent were not wearing a life jacket.
•The most common types of vessels involved in reported mishaps were open motorboats (44%), personal watercraft (24%), and cabin motorboats (15%).
Fireworks - According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, in 2006 eleven people died and an estimated 9,200 were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the United States. According to the CDC findings:
•One-third of the fireworks-related injuries involved children under 15 years of age.
•The body parts most often injured were hands (2,300 injuries), eyes (1,500 injuries), and the head, face, and ear (1,400 injuries).
•More than half of the injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all body parts except the eyes and head areas, where contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye occurred more frequently.
•Firecrackers were associated with the greatest number of estimated injuries.
•Sparklers accounted for one-third of the injuries to children less than 5 years of age.
•Between 2000-2005, more than one-third of fireworks-related deaths involved professional devices that were illegally sold to consumers.
Fireworks aren't toys; they are explosive devices. Never allow children to use fireworks without close adult supervision. If you want to make fireworks a part of your Fourth of July celebration, attend a professional fireworks display.
Alcohol - Whether it be driving, boating, or fireworks, the one common thread that runs through most of holiday-related injuries and deaths is alcohol.
Boating - Remember that you can be charged with BUI (Boating Under the Influence) and the alcohol limits and penalties are essentially the same as for a DUI.
Fireworks - Alcohol and explosives don't mix.
Driving - According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2007, 34 percent of all drivers involved in traffic-related crashes during the July 4th holiday period (6 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, 2007 to 5:59 a.m. on Thursday, July 5, 2007) had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, the legal limit in all states. NHTSA suggests that before you begin your Fourth of July Celebration:
•Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin
•Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys
•If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely
•Use your community's Sober Rides program
•If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact local law enforcement
Remember that buzzed driving is driving impaired.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July celebration!
For more information visit; http://www.stopimpaireddriving.org/