The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that the 4th of July holiday is the deadliest driving day of the year. An average of 144 traffic fatalities happen each year on the 4th of July and almost 300 additional deaths for the other days around the 4th of July. The IIHS offers the following suggestions for safer traveling this 4th of July:
1. FOLLOW BASIC SAFETY PRACTICES.
“If everyone buckled up, didn’t drink and drive and obeyed the speed limit, July Fourth would be a lot safer,” says IIHS spokesman Russ Rader. And it may sound obvious, but if you’re riding a motorcycle, always wear a helmet. “Motorcycle crashes also play a significant role in the deaths that occur on the Fourth,” said Rader. “If you’re considering buying a bike for the first time or getting a new one, make sure it has antilock brakes, which are increasingly standard on motorcycles. ABS can reduce your risk of dying in a crash by nearly a third.”
2. TAKE PREVENTIVE MEASURES.
Have a trusted mechanic check over your car before a long road trip or at least check your oil level, tire pressure and make sure your coolant level is correct, since cars can overheat when stuck in traffic.
3. PLAY AROUND WITH YOUR TRIP’S TIMING IF POSSIBLE.
While the days around July 4 are also dangerous, it is a bit safer to travel a few days before and after July 4 than on the day itself. TODAY’s Dylan Dreyer recommends leaving Friday before 7 a.m. or Saturday before 11 a.m. According to traffic and navigation app Waze, the worst time to travel is Thursday and Friday between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. And for the return trip, avoid driving Monday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
4. MIND THE GAP.
Use the 3-second rule to establish a safe following distance from the car in front of you.
5. KEEP YOUR EYES (AND MIND) ON THE ROAD.
Try to minimize distractions in the car, from family disputes to loose items like sunglasses, phones and other items left on the dashboard, which can obstruct the driver’s view or fall startlingly to the floor.
6. KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING.
Familiarize yourself with the route by checking the map and printing directions ahead of time. During the drive, have a capable passenger alert the driver to turns, exits and the like to minimize distractions. Avoid gazing at directions on the phone while driving.
7. GET PLENTY OF REST.
Perhaps you’ve been burning the midnight oil to wrap up projects before your vacation. But while a long car ride may mean a chance to recover as a passenger, it’s no place to let your guard down when you’re behind the wheel. Plan on taking frequent breaks, and rotating drivers whenever possible.
Read more from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety about traffic safety and traffic statistics: