The day that celebrates America’s birth is also the deadliest day on the roads. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), roughly 118 people die every year in traffic collisions on July 4th. As you might’ve already guessed, the vast majority of these crashes involve DUI.
With a record-shattering 41 million people expected to hit the roads this Independence Day, all motorists need to be proactive about their safety. Obviously, the best safety advice is to simply avoid traveling on July 4th! If that’s not an option for you, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
Deterring Deadly DUIs
As mentioned above, DUI is a common cause of auto accidents during July 4th. The IIHS found that almost 50 percent of traffic fatalities on this day had something to do with alcohol-related DUI.
Pennsylvania law clearly states that it’s illegal for anyone over 21 to operate a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. Drunk drivers who are caught will face steep penalties including a $300 fine, mandatory alcohol highway safety classes, and a max of 6 months probation. These penalties increase with each subsequent arrest.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages anyone who will be drinking alcohol to take this time to plan their transportation situation. For those who will be hosting 4th of July parties, stock your cooler with a variety of non-alcoholic beverages and make sure everyone who is drinking has a designated driver.
You can read more about Pennsylvania’s DUI laws by clicking on this official DMV webpage.
A Warning To All Motorcyclists
While January 1st is almost as deadly as July 4th for car drivers, there’s no doubt that Independence Day is the absolute worst for motorcyclists. IIHS reports that about 26 motorcyclists die every Independence Day, which is well above the daily average.
Obviously, the warm weather encourages more motorcyclists to hit the roads on July 4th. Factor in alcohol consumption and a higher volume of cars on the road, and you have a recipe for disaster for anyone traveling by motorcycle.
The most effective way motorcyclists could avoid serious injury on July 4th is to wear DOT-approved protective headgear. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests helmets save the lives of approximately 1,850 motorcyclists per year. Safety experts also advise motorcyclists to place strips of reflective tape on their clothes if traveling at night.
Although public health officials recommend wearing helmets, not all motorcyclists are required to wear them in the state of Pennsylvania. There are, however, two conditions motorcyclists must meet to legally ride helmetless.
First, you must be over the age of 21. Second, you need to have a minimum of two years of experience riding a motorcycle. If you don’t have two years of experience, then you could still ride without a helmet provided you’ve attended a motorcyclist safety course recognized by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or PennDOT.
Anyone who wants to learn more about Pennsylvania’s helmet requirements should check out this link.
DUI: It’s Not Just About Alcohol
When most people think of DUI, they usually only think of alcohol. With the increasing legalization of cannabis, however, more police units have been handing out DUIs to people driving while “high.”
While medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, the drug remains illegal recreationally. Weed has recently been decriminalized in Philadelphia, which simply means anyone caught with 30 grams of weed will only face a civil offense.
Whether you’ve been taking marijuana for legitimate medical concerns or recreationally, you can expect to face DUI charges if you’re caught driving while impaired this 4th of July.
Keep in mind that any mind-altering substance could qualify as a DUI arrest. This includes over-the-counter and prescription medications. If you have any concerns about medicines you’re taking, be sure to talk with your primary care physician before hopping in the driver’s seat.
Anyone interested in learning more about the legalities of medical marijuana in PA can log on to this state database.
Enjoy A Super Safe Fourth Of July
It’s never a good idea to go on “holiday autopilot” when driving, but especially on July 4th. As long as you’re proactive on the roads, however, you should have a safe Fourth of July celebration. Perhaps there are no better words to drive this point home than Jim Morrison’s immortal lyrics: “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel!”
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one is involved in any type of auto accident on July 4th or any other date, contact The Pearce Law Firm, P.C. for a free, confidential consultation.