June 27, 2011 13:00 ET

Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

Designate a Sober Driver This July 4th Weekend

KANSAS CITY, MO--(Marketwire - Jun 27, 2011) - July 4th celebrations often include cook-outs, picnics, boating, time spent with family and friends and, of course, fireworks. But for too many families, this holiday weekend can be filled with tragedy instead of celebration. The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year when it comes to alcohol-impaired-driving crashes on our roadways.

That is why area traffic safety organizations and law enforcement are reminding everyone that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving and to designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin.

Statistics gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over the past 25 years show that, on average, nearly half of all deadly traffic crashes over each year's July 4th holiday involved some level of alcohol.

In fact, 410 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationally during the Fourth of July weekend in 2009. Of that number, 40 percent involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.

"The Fourth of July is a time most Americans spend celebrating with family and friends, but in order to keep someone you love from becoming another deadly statistic, each of us can do our part to combat one of America's deadliest crimes -- drunk driving," said Romell Cooks, Regional Administrator NHTSA, Region 7. "We hope each individual will be responsible, designate a sober driver before the parties begin and will never get behind the wheel after they've been drinking."

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have made it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher.

"Alcohol impairs many of the skills that safe driving requires, including judgment, concentration, comprehension, coordination, visual acuity and reaction time," said Ms. Cooks. "Even driving 'buzzed' is simply not worth the risk to you or the thousands of innocent victims who are hurt or killed each year by drunk drivers."

Impaired driving is one of America's deadliest problems. In 2009 alone, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, accounting for 32 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That's an average of one impaired-driving fatality every 48 minutes in 2009.

Officials offer these simple tips to help ensure a safe holiday:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
  • If you're impaired, don't get behind the wheel. Call a taxi, use public transportation or call a sober friend or family member 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 -- because you may just save someone's life.
  • Remember, Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.

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Contact Information

    Ginny Vineyard
    (816) 456-5302