How to Stay Safe Driving Home From Fourth of July Festivities

Ah, the Fourth of July. Full of picnics, parties, swimming, boating, and fireworks. The perfect day.

Then comes the drive home.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the Fourth of July is the deadliest day of the year when it comes to vehicle crashes. Why? Four reasons.

  1. More vehicles are on the road.
  2. More drivers are driving in areas beyond their regular commute.
  3. More people are using their cell phones while driving.
  4. More people have been drinking throughout the day.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that one-third of all automobile accidents are due to impaired drivers. Even if they don’t hit anyone directly, they cause wrecks. They drive erratically, speeding up and slowing down, swerving, weaving, and crossing into other lanes. Their times are diminished. Usually they’re drowsy from too much alcohol and often fall asleep at the wheel.

That’s why it’s so important to be especially defensive when driving home from your Fourth of July holiday. Here are the top 10 tips to help you do so:

1. Stay Where You Are

If possible, don’t drive at all. If it’s a three-day weekend and you’re spending it out of town, stay overnight at a motel or campground and drive home the following morning.

2. Don’t Ride Your Motorcycle

Leave your bike at home and drive your car instead. Motorcyclists are at particular risk on the Fourth of July since it’s the middle of summer. Even if you wear a regulation helmet and protective clothing, you’re still far more vulnerable to being involved in a wreck than if you were in a car.

3. Drive Home Early

The earlier you drive on the Fourth of July, the better. The later you leave for home, the likelier you will encounter impaired drivers.

4. Always Wear Your Seat Belt

This one’s a no-brainer, but people tend to relax their driving habits during the summer and don’t always buckle up.

5. Never Text or Use Your Cell Phone While Driving

Taking your hands off the steering wheel and taking your eyes off the road to text is very dangerous. Talking on your cell phone while driving also is dangerous, even though many people have the misconception that a hands-free device is safe to use. It isn’t. While certainly better than holding your cell, having phone conversations while driving distracts you from concentrating on what’s ahead, behind, and to the sides of you.

6. Maintain Safe Following Distances

If possible, stay several car lengths behind the vehicle(s) in front of you. That way you’ll have a much better chance of seeing erratic driving and avoiding its consequences.

7. Be Extra Careful When Approaching Intersections

Impaired drivers are not known for obeying traffic signals and signs. Be particularly vigilant when coming to an intersection. Be aware of vehicles coming from cross streets or roads. Don’t assume they’re going to stop, even if they appear to be slowing down.

8. Cooperate at Checkpoints

Many states and municipalities set up police checkpoints on holidays. Don’t be irritated if you come to one. The officers are foregoing their own holiday to protect you. Be courteous to them and produce your driver’s license and insurance card when asked.

9. Be the Designated Driver

Volunteer to be the designated driver at parties or establishments where alcohol is being served. Then stick to it and don’t drink. Even a couple of beers can impair your driving ability. Besides, it’s hard to keep track once you’ve started.

10. Don’t Drink and Drive

You’ve heard it all your life, so listen. If you’ve had anything to drink and don’t have a designated driver to get you home, call a cab, Uber, or Lyft. It’s well worth the price.

By following these 10 tips, your safe arrival home will be the perfect ending to your perfect Fourth of July.