In America, Independence Day is a memorable holiday with countless BBQs, outdoor activities and delightful fireworks shows. However, with so many people traveling about the country, it is also worth noting the dangers that come along with the Fourth of July. AAA projects that 41 million Americans will have some type of excursion away from their hometown this upcoming weekend, and even though there is a five percent decrease in airfare from last year, 34.8 million of people travelling are still choosing to take a road trip. That being said, the risk of something happening while on the road skyrockets, and Independence Day is one of the most dangerous times to be driving.
With as many as 41 million Americans on the open road at once, chances are there will be an increased danger of deadly accidents and driving under the influence offenses this Independence Day. Not only are police boosting the number of sobriety checkpoints and routine traffic stops, citizens themselves should take extra care in choosing not to drink and drive during this patriotic holiday. Patriotism and good American beer definitely go hand in hand. It is important to never get behind the wheel after drinking to avoid death, injury, a crashed car, jail time, hefty fines, ridiculous insurance rates, endless hours of community service, the high costs of alcohol education classes, monitored sobriety and years of having an ignition interlock in your vehicle. The National Highway Safety Administration says that on Independence Day, “Nearly 51 percent of all deadly traffic crashes are related to alcohol.” That’s more deadly car crashes on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year.
Since drinking is a main event during the Independence Day holiday, it is also relevant to acknowledge the potential firework dangers this time of year, especially when consuming alcohol. In many states, fireworks are considered to be illegal either because they are banned completely or because the type of firework is banned. With many states dealing with intense drought conditions during the summer, the fire danger becomes seriously elevated.
Last year in Sacramento, the use of illegal fireworks nearly burned several homes to the ground. Even the smallest flame can quickly rage out of control with high temperatures and winds, resulting in damaged property or personal injury. Aside from the immediate alcohol and fire dangers on Independence Day, an average of 200 people a year visit the emergency room with firework related injuries on this holiday. These injuries can easily be avoided by never buying professional fireworks and maintaining adult supervision at all times, because even sparklers can burn at up to 2,000 degrees, which is as hot as a blowtorch! Only light one firework at a time, and take care to back up at a safe distance after lighting the fuse. Never place any body part over the lit firework. It is recommended to keep a hose or bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies, and always make sure fireworks are legal in your city before setting them off to avoid criminal charges and fines. Independence Day is much more fun without car accidents, tickets from the police and fines.
By Sarah Gallagher