Get to your July 4th destination safely

Know how to avoid drunk drivers
STATE—With millions of drivers hitting the road this Fourth of July holiday, playing it safe when behind the wheel takes on even greater importance.

Unfortunately, the Independence Day holiday period is one of the deadliest times for being on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that every 40 minutes and nearly 40 times a day, someone in the United States dies in an alcohol impaired traffic crash.

“Despite the best efforts of police departments and law enforcement agencies, people who shouldn’t be driving are still on the road,” said Linda Moynihan, Regional Sales Leader for the Midwest Region of Allstate Insurance. “Even when you’re not on the road, you can help save lives by being a responsible party host, preventing friends and acquaintances from driving drunk and reporting suspicious drivers.”

To protect families from drunk drivers over the July 4th holiday period, here are some life-saving tips from Allstate and the National Safety Council:
• Don’t ever drink and drive. If you know you will be drinking alcohol, use a designated driver or public transportation
• If you spot an impaired driver on the highway, maintain a safe following distance and don’t attempt to pass.
• Report a suspected drunk driver immediately to area law enforcement from your car phone or a pay phone. Give police as much information (i.e., license plate number, make, model and color of vehicle, direction vehicle is traveling, physical description of driver) as possible. Do not try to stop the vehicle.
• Make sure children are properly fastened in seatbelts or child safety seats in the back seat every time they ride in a car. Six out of ten children killed in crashes are not restrained. Children age 12 and younger should always ride in the back seat, especially in vehicles with air bags.
• Allow enough travel time for frequent breaks on longer trips. Drowsiness can reduce reaction time almost as much as drinking.

Whether you plan to hit the open road or stay close to home, celebrate America’s independence safely by knowing how to diffuse a potentially dangerous driving situation. Don’t remember the Fourth of July for all the wrong reasons.

Fourth of July driving facts

• In 2007, 34 percent of all drivers
involved in traffic related crashes
during the July 4th holiday period
had a blood alcohol concentra-
tion (BAC) of .08 or higher.

• Of the 200 traffic related fatalities
that occurred during the July 4th
holiday period of 2007, 44 percent
involved a driver or motorcyclist
with a BAC of .08 or higher.

The national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) lists the following warning signs for spotting a drunk driver on the road

• Straddling lanes or driving
on the center line

• Drifting or moving in a straight line
at a slight angle to the roadway

• Driving with headlights off at night

• Erratic braking or stopping
without cause

• Driving below the speed limit

• Slow response to traffic signals
(sudden stop, delayed start)

• Nearly striking an object, curb, etc

• Weaving or zigzagging
across the road

• Driving on the wrong side of the
road or off the roadway

• Tailgating