The Resource Training Center Says Designate a Sober Driver this July 4th | Commentary
The Fourth of July is a favorite American holiday filled with fun, food, fireworks, friends and family. But celebrating can quickly turn to tragedy when people choose to drive after drinking. Monica Farrar, director of The Resource Training Center in Amherst, is urging everyone to plan ahead this Independence Day and designate a sober driver!
“The Fourth of July festivities can be so much fun,” said Farrar. “People make plans for the partying, but too many drivers don’t plan ahead to get home safely.”
“We’ve seen far too many drivers around Western New York who think it’s OK to drive ‘buzzed.’ The truth is you don’t have to be completely wasted to get arrested for drunk driving,” Farrar added. “Remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving.”
This year, the Fourth comes on a Saturday, so Friday, July 3, is the Federal holiday and observance. That means the Fourth of July weekend starts at 6 p.m. Thursday and extends to 5:59 a.m. Monday morning, July 6.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration paint a grim picture of the effect drunk driving has on America. NHTSA reports there were 10,076 fatalities involving drunk driving in 2013, accounting for 31 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic deaths for that year. That equals about one alcohol-impaired-driving death every 52 minutes.
In 2013, Forbes magazine named the Independence Day holiday “the most dangerous holiday of the year.”
Drunk-driving fatalities are high year-round, but they typically spike during holidays like the Fourth of July. During the Independence Day holiday in 2013, 512 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and of these, 39 percent died in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 or higher. Unfortunately, 2013 wasn’t a fluke; from 2009 to 2013, among all crash fatalities around the Fourth of July holiday period, 39 percent involved drunk drivers.
Certain drivers are more likely than others to drive drunk. Younger drivers 18 to 34 years old are consistently overrepresented in fatal alcohol-impaired crashes. In 2013, almost half (45 percent) of the young drivers killed in crashes had BACs of .08 or higher.
Nighttime (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) driving is particularly dangerous because of drunk drivers — and the 4th of July holiday is no exception. During the July Fourth holiday period in 2013, the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was over three times higher at night than during the day.
“Here’s what we want people to understand,” said Farrar. “Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive, it impairs your judgment about whether you can or should drive. Sure, you may think you’re fine, but you’re not. The best thing to keep in mind is the simple fact that buzzed driving is drunk driving. You can only prevent drunk driving by driving completely sober.”
Follow these simple tips courtesy of The Resource Training Center for a safe Fourth of July:
• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
• If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement.
• If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
Located at 4255 Harlem Road, Amherst, The Resource Training Center offers a wide variety of services, including the New York State Drinking Driver Program for individuals convicted of an alcohol- or drug-related driving violation, and Alive at 25, an innovative program that teaches young drivers to change how they approach driving. For more information, please call 983-2258, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wnyresourcetraining.org. You can also follow The Resource Training Center on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Resource-Training-Center/112019195650348 or Twitter (@monica_farrar) for frequent updates.