With the Fourth of July fast approaching, people across the country may be wondering how they’ll celebrate the birth of our nation this year. For a lot of folks, many things won’t quite be the same.
As we continue to battle COVID-19, it’s become clear that many traditions and patriotic parties won’t be taking place this year. Though many large events have been canceled, there are still ways for Americans to celebrate. That may mean smaller gatherings, watching firework displays from the comfort of your car or couch, or creating new traditions while still social distancing.
However you choose to celebrate this Fourth of July, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., hopes you and your loved ones stay safe – especially if your plans involve driving. Though the Fourth of July may look different in the age of COVID-19, it’s still one of the most dangerous times of year on the road.
Fourth of July & Roadway Risks
The summer months have long been associated with increased risks of motor vehicle accidents, but the Fourth of July is a hazard all unto its own. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Fourth is the single-most dangerous day to be on the roads.
That’s due to several factors, including:
- Drunk driving accidents: Drunk driving crashes are a major concern during the Fourth of July. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 240 people were killed in drunk driving crashes on the 4th of July in 2017, accounting for 39% of all traffic deaths during the holiday period. NHTSA also reports that more people die in drunk driving wrecks in July than any other month.
- More vehicles on the road: As a federal holiday, the Fourth of July allows many Americans to take extended vacations. Though delays are always a concern during holidays, researchers anticipate an even larger spike in traffic this year. That’s primarily due to an increase in single-occupancy vehicle commuting, as many will practice social distancing by driving themselves rather than carpooling or using public transit. An interactive tool published by the World Economic Forum helps predict what vehicle congestion may look like in some of the country’s largest metro areas this July 4th, and it’s charting a significant spike in New York City.
- Inexperienced and out-of-town motorists: Big holidays bring more than just more traffic; they also bring more inexperienced and out-of-town motorists. Data from NHTSA shows summer months are the most dangerous time of year for young and novice drivers who, free from school, want to spread their wings. The numbers also show out-of-town drivers are more likely to be involved in wrecks during holidays, as they’re more apt to make sudden lane changes, drive overly cautious or nervous, use their phones or navigation systems, and generally make mistakes locals wouldn’t.
- Speeding: Though congestion at the busiest times of day may prevent motorists from driving too fast, it’s inevitable that speeding will be a big concern. With places to go and things to do, many motorists drive at excessive speeds during holidays and holiday weekends. Excessive speed not only increases the risk of a crash but also risks of serious and fatal injuries.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is a year-round hazard, but it can be even more dangerous during the holidays. With more cars and pedestrians out and about on public streets, if a driver takes his or her eyes off the road for just one second, it could spell disaster. As NHTSA studies show, taking your eyes off the road for just 5 seconds while driving at 55 mph is long enough to cover the length of a football field.
5 Tips to Avoid Auto Accidents This Fourth of July
- Party With a Plan: If you know you’ll be celebrating the Fourth of July with drinks, create a plan ahead of time to ensure you don’t drink and drive. That could mean planning to stay the night where you’ll be celebrating, designating a sober driver, using public transit, or calling a cab or rideshare.
- Responsible Hosts: If you’re hosting a gathering or celebration where people will be drinking, help sober drivers by making sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available. You can also help those who are drinking by making arrangements ahead of time to ensure they have a place to crash or a safe and sober ride home.
- Sober Drivers: Being a designated driver means being the person in your group who doesn’t drink at all, not the person who drinks the least. By making responsible decisions, you can help keep you, your friends and loved ones, and others safe. If you see a drunk driver on the road, pull over safely until they pass and call 911.
- Avoid Distractions: Whether you’re heading out for a long road trip or even just a quick ride, make sure you know where you’re going and have everything you need before you saddle up and set off on the highway. Whether it’s eating, selecting music, using a navigation system, or texting, distracted driving substantially increases your risk of crashing. Keep yourself and those around you safe by focusing on the road.
- Pre-Trip Planning: Just as planning a ride home after drinking is important, so too is planning before you head out on any extended trip. If your plans involve traveling by car, take preventative measures to have your vehicle checked and tuned up to ensure its working correctly, and that you get adequate sleep, budget time for rest stops, or have another person willing to take the wheel when you need a break. If possible, consider traveling a few days before or after the Fourth to avoid delays and traffic.
Legal Support After An Accident
Prioritizing safety and planning ahead can go a long way when it comes to reducing your risks of an auto accident. However, they won’t eliminate every risk, especially when holidays bring out more people and more risks.
In the event that you or someone you love is involved in an auto accident, knowing what to do can help you keep calm and focused on a few important steps to take. This includes:
- Checking to see if anyone is hurt and calling for emergency medical assistance.
- Calling the authorities for help with getting vehicles safely off the road, and to ensure an accident report will be made.
- Documenting the accident and gathering as much information as you can, including driver and witness information, vehicle and insurance information, and photos/videos of the vehicles, scene, and any visible injuries.
- Calling the insurance company to report the accident.
- Getting a thorough medical evaluation. Even if you don’t immediately feel pain or think you can tough it out, following up with your doctor and follow any provided medical advice.
- Speaking with an experienced attorney to discuss your options for recovering financial compensation for your injuries and damages.
The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., has recovered millions in compensation for victims injured in a range of motor vehicle accidents. If you have questions about a potential personal injury case and how our award-winning attorneys can help, call or contact us to request a FREE consultation.