Memorial Day is celebrated at the end of May every year to honor those who lost their lives serving in the military. The day is a federal holiday and a three day weekend for many people. Unfortunately, like most holidays, the celebrations can lead to drinking and driving and impaired drivers who think "they're fine" to drive the few blocks or miles or counties to their home. Law enforcement is usually out in force over holiday weekends such as this one in order to catch any driver who has had a few too many at an afternoon pool party.
Just take a look at these articles from around the country that reported DUI arrests that took place over Memorial Day.
- In Colorado, there were 372 arrests for DUI or DWAI.
- In Connecticut, there were 51 DUI arrests.
- In Arizona, 420 people were arrested for DUI.
Over the weekend the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports than, on average, some 400 people die every year on the roads. Of these deaths, 44% are alcohol related.
Memorial Day weekend is not the only time of year that driving on the roads can be dangerous. According to the Huffington Post, the NHTSA has found that July and August are the two most dangerous months to drive. This is particularly true for when teens are involved. The start of the most dangerous time for teens to be on the road begins after Memorial Day in what has been termed the "100 Deadliest Days." According to AAA, "[c]rashes for teen drivers increase significantly during the summer months because teens drive more during this time of year." The reason for the title is fairly self-explanatory. During this 100 day period, "[a]n average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers." This equates to about 10 people dying per day from crashes with teen drivers. Distracted driving is "one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers." The top three distractions were found to be "[t]alking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle," "[t]alking, texting or operating a cell phone," and "[a]ttending to or looking at something inside the vehicle."
Summer also holds the distinction of being the season in which the single deadliest day to drive during the year occurs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that between 2000-2013 the deadliest day to drive was the Fourth of July. The reasons for the holiday being so dangerous includes alcohol and the increased number of people on the road. Between 2009 and 2013, IIHS reported that "612 people died in crashes on the Fourth of July". That works about to about 122 people each year.
The Fourth of July is fast approaching. While you cannot prevent the dangerous driving behavior of other people, you can take responsibility for your own driving choices. Make safe decisions this holiday, like putting down your cell phone while behind the wheel, calling a cab or Uber instead of driving home if you have been drinking, or appointing a designated driver for the night. These measures can reduce the number of impaired or distracted drivers on the road and make the night a little safer for everyone.
Be safe this Fourth of July.