AAA estimates Independence Day travel volume to rise 4.1 percent compared to 2018. They say nearly 49 million people are planning some sort of getaway over the holiday weekend, and many of those getaways are likely to be by car. In fact, AAA estimates 41.4 million Americans will travel by automobile over the weekend.
Not only does record-level travel volume mean record-level travel delays, it also means you should prepare to avoid traffic accidents on the road. Below, we look at two common causes of crashes on this holiday: distraction and intoxication.
Don't Drive Distracted
Distraction is especially tempting when you're stuck in traffic. It's so important to stay alert and pay attention, even in stop-and-go congestion. Here are the basics when it comes to eliminating distractions you have control over:
- Turn your phone to silent and place it out of sight. That way, you won't be tempted to respond to alerts, ringtones and incoming calls.
- Make sure your GPS is adjusted how you want it before you start driving.
- Ask a passenger to navigate for you, so you don't have to worry about GPS directions or missing a turn.
- Keep your eyes, hands and mind on the task of driving. Even simple daydreaming is distracting enough to cause a crash.
- Ask passengers to respect your role as the driver, and not to argue, get too loud or otherwise act in a distracting way.
- Make sure everything you will need – snacks, tissue, water – is within reach. You don't want to be reaching into the backseat or fumbling around while you're driving.
Inattentive driving is a major cause of accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 3,166 people were killed in 2017 because of distracted driving. Like any other skill, driving requires concentration and care.
Arrange a Sober Ride Home
Drunk or buzzed driving tends to be a major contributor to holiday car wrecks. Fourth of July is no exception. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 47 percent of deaths on July 4 involved at least one drunk driver, pedestrian or cyclist.
It's easy for a day of merry-making to push someone over the legal limit; or, to be under the legal BAC but still dangerously too buzzed to drive. Prepare ahead of time by:
- Arranging for a Lyft, Uber, taxi, bus, sober driver or alternate means of transportation if you plan to celebrate with libations.
- Have a plan. Don't wait until it's too late to make a smart decision.
- Make sure friends and other party guests who appear intoxicated get a safe ride home.
It's an unfortunate fact that you cannot eliminate the possibility of encountering drunk drivers on the road. If you notice any erratic driving behavior or driving that makes you nervous, you may want to consider exiting the highway or turning onto another road, to allow the unsafe driver to leave your area. You may also want to report the apparent drunken driving to the police, if you are able to get a description and call the police safely.
Prepare for Unexpected Scenarios
It's always a good idea to be prepared. Pack a few emergency items in case you are sidelined for a few hours by car problems:
- Phone and car charger
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Drinking water
- High-calorie snacks
These items help you stay hydrated, energized and warm until help arrives.
Happy 4th of July from the Lawyers at our Firm
The lawyers and staff at Copple, Rockey, McKeever & Schlecht want each and every family in Omaha, Norfolk and all of the communities across Nebraska to have a joyful, fun-filled Independence Day. We are passionate about being a part of this community, and we hope the tips provided above will help ensure safe holiday travel. To learn more about us, or if you have any questions about accidents in our region, please call us at 402-371-4300.