– Special to WEKY AM 1340 –
The Fourth of July weekend marks the beginning of the traditional summer travel season and the American Automobile Association projects a record 37.5 million motorists will hit the roads this year, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year. Unfortunately, it is also one of the deadliest holiday periods of the year due to drunk driving crashes.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports drunken driving fatalities typically spike during holidays such as the Fourth of July.
The Kentucky State Police (KSP) is urging everyone to plan ahead and designate a sober driver during the upcoming July 4th holiday period, which runs from 6 p.m. on Friday, June 30 through midnight on Tuesday, July 4. KSP, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety and its local law enforcement partners throughout the Commonwealth will be out in full force during this period in an effort to keep impaired drivers off the road.
“KSP is participating in the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign, which means zero tolerance for drunken driving,” says KSP Lt. Michael Webb. “If you drink and drive during this holiday period, you will be arrested — no excuses.”
“Drivers must understand that alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive, it impairs your judgment about whether you can or should drive,” notes Webb. “You may think you’re ‘fine,’ but you’re not. Please, prevent drunken driving and needless highway fatalities by only driving when completely sober.”
Ten people died on Kentucky’s roadways during last year’s July 4 holiday period, with three of those being alcohol-related. Statewide, authorities investigated 71 alcohol-related crashes and arrested 428 motorists driving while impaired.
Nationally, during the Independence Day holiday in 2015, 146 people were killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. Additionally, 92 people died in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of 0.15 or higher — almost twice the legal limit.
To prevent tragedies from occurring, KSP recommends the following steps for a safe and happy Independence Day:
- Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night.
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.
- If you see a drunken driver, contact law enforcement by dialing 911. You may dial the KSP toll-free line directly at 1-800-222-5555.
- And remember, if you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get them safely to where they are going.
“Don’t risk losing your life or your independence this Fourth of July. Keep your freedom. Don’t go to jail for impaired driving,” says Webb. “Remember, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”