This has been a year of continuous and unexpected events. Never did I expect that just two months after being confirmed as the 46th Board Member of the NTSB, I would be sent home to quarantine and physically distance from my new colleagues – and for a period now approaching 5 months. Additionally, the news headlines have not let up, both nationally and internationally. Each seems more surprising than the next.
However, some things remain the same, and not necessarily in a positive sense. According to the National Safety Council, while the total number of traffic deaths is down, there was a 36.6-percent increase in fatality rates per miles driven in April 2020 (the most recent month for which statistics are available).
Now, as some states are easing their stay-at-home orders, people are tempted to reunite with family and friends. This reacquired freedom is coinciding with another reason to celebrate our freedoms – Independence Day. Unfortunately, July 4th is one of the deadliest impaired driving holidays in the United States, according to NHTSA.
The NTSB has long advocated for our safety recommendations to end alcohol and drug impaired driving – over the 4th of July weekend and every day. We have recommended many changes to strengthen impaired driving laws. However, ultimately, impaired driving is the result of the personal choice of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs.
Like many others, my family and I will be celebrating this holiday, but we all have a responsibility to celebrate responsibly. In March, many states reported that they experienced zero impaired driving fatalities over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. For the upcoming Independence Day weekend, I challenge you to repeat that history. Let’s make this another holiday where we celebrate zero impaired driving fatalities. If you choose to consume alcohol or drugs, also choose a designated, sober driver. Remember that impairment begins with the first drink or dose. And buzzed driving is drunk driving.
Choose to drive sober or designate a sober driver. Impaired driving is 100% preventable!