The Fourth of July
is known for a few traditions – grilling, flag flying, parades, fireworks and … traffic accidents?
According to a 2004
study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, July 4th is the deadliest
day on America’s roads, followed closely by July 3 in second place. July 2 is
in ninth place.
Each year, an
average of 161 people die in crashes on the holiday – that’s 12 people, or 40
percent more, than the average of any other day of the year, according to the
report. Between 1986 and 2002, 2,743 people were killed on Independence Day.
Many states are
taking extra precautions to help prevent fatalities on their highways. In Iowa – a state whose speed limit on rural interstates raises to 70 mph July 1 –
officers are joining forces under the state’s Special Traffic Enforcement
Program, referred to as STEP, to watch for impaired and speeding drivers.
Last year, STEP
agencies reported 272 contacts with alcohol or drug-impaired drivers, 115 open
container violations and 8,000 traffic citations or warnings, the Council
Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reported.
“During the Fourth
of July, holiday traffic is probably the most congested of all holidays, and we
ask every motorist to slow down, buckle up and drive safely,” Col. Robert
Garrison, Iowa State Patrol chief, told the Daily Nonpareil.
including Oregon, Alabama and Georgia, are also increasing the number of
officers on the road, according to media reports.
Rick Craig, director
of regulatory affairs for OOIDA, said one of the key ways for truckers to safe
over the weekend is to wear their safety belts.
“For many busy truckers, holiday weekends are
business as usual,” Craig said. “With the increased congestion during the
holiday also comes an increase in impaired, fatigued and distracted motorists.
No matter how safe and professional you may be, you don’t always know what the
other guy is going to do. Be ready for the unexpected and make sure you are
buckled up, just in case.”
The association is
involved with the Commercial
Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership’s “Be Ready, Be Buckled” awareness and
– By Aaron
Ladage, staff writer