TRUMANN, Ark. – As the 4th of July approaches, a time of national celebration and festivities, the Trumann Police Department and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are urging drivers to prioritize safety and remember that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
Statistics from 2021 reveal the sobering truth about the dangers of impaired driving. Over the 4th of July holiday period, 212 individuals lost their lives in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. These were individuals who started the day with plans for celebration but ended up experiencing permanent tragedy.
In 2021, alcohol-impaired drivers were involved in 13,384 motor vehicle crash-related deaths, accounting for 31% of all traffic fatalities in the United States. This marked a 14.2% increase from the previous year. During the specific July 4th holiday period, 538 people lost their lives in motor vehicle traffic crashes, with 39% of those fatalities occurring in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Notably, 82% of alcohol-related fatalities happened during nighttime hours (6 p.m. – 5:59 a.m.).
It is crucial to recognize that if you have to question whether you’re fit to drive, chances are you are not. Even feeling “buzzed” indicates impairment that makes it unsafe to operate a vehicle. For some individuals, even one drink is enough to impair their driving abilities. If your plans involve alcohol, it is essential to arrange for a sober driver in advance to ensure everyone’s safety, including loved ones, parents or children, and friends.
Captain Gary W. Henry Sr. emphasizes the importance of celebrating responsibly: “We want our community to enjoy the July 4th holiday, and we want our community to celebrate responsibly. It is never okay to drink and drive — even after just a few drinks. There are so many options for a sober ride these days. So, plan ahead — if you’ll be drinking this 4th of July, or any other day, arrange for a sober ride.”
The 4th of July holiday period consistently ranks among the deadliest times of the year on the nation’s roads. From 2017 to 2021, 1,460 drivers lost their lives in drunk-driving crashes during this period. Of these drivers, 38% were alcohol-impaired, with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Alarmingly, almost half (44%) of the drivers aged 21-34 who were killed in crashes were drunk. Every 39 minutes, on average, one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash in 2021.
Drinking and driving should never be combined, as nobody is immune to the effects of drunk driving. If you find yourself intoxicated and unable to drive, it is crucial to hand your keys over to a sober driver who can safely take you home. Additionally, it is essential to discourage friends from getting into a vehicle with a drunk driver. If you encounter someone who is about to drive drunk, intervene by taking their keys and helping them find a safe way home. It is crucial to prioritize lives over potential offense in these situations.
Planning ahead is key to making responsible choices. If you wait until after consuming alcohol to figure out your transportation, chances are you are already impaired and unable to make sound decisions. Fortunately, numerous options are available to help impaired drivers get home safely, such as designating a sober driver or utilizing taxi or rideshare services. Additionally, communities often offer sober ride programs that can be utilized.
If you spot a drunk driver on the road, it is essential to take immediate action by contacting the Trumann Police Department at 870-483-6423 (or your local law enforcement agency).
This 4th of July and every day, remember to only drive if you are completely sober. Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. For more information on impaired driving, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.