With the Memorial Day weekend behind us, it’s time to enjoy outdoor get-togethers such as barbecues and lazy days on the beach. Unfortunately, this time of year also means more drivers under the influence on our roads and more inexperienced ones, too.
When attending a party, it’s pretty simple. If you plan on drinking alcohol or ingesting other substances that can impair your senses, make sure you have a plan. There is no excuse for driving under the influence. Once upon a time, someone who planned on drinking needed to have a designated driver, plan to sleep over at the place where they were partying or call a taxi. Sometimes many partiers found themselves with a designated person who decided they would have a little fun, too. Or, with no room to sleep at the house where the party was held or a taxi that never showed up, they then got behind the wheel of a car and took off. Nowadays, with phone apps to order car services such as Uber or Lyft, there’s no excuse for driving under the influence of any substance.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019, 10,142 people lost their lives due to drunk-driving crashes in the U.S. That’s 10,142 lives that were lost unnecessarily. But there is even more to watch out for on the road during those hot months besides drunk drivers.
Memorial Day to Labor Day has become known as the “100 deadliest days” of the year as the teen driver death rate increases. According to AAA, from the unofficial start of summer to its unofficial end, there are “more fatal crashes per day, on average, involving teen drivers compared to the rest of the year.”
A study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found more than 7,000 teens died in such crashes from 2010-19 in the U.S. In New York state, during the same period, 473 teen drivers died in car crashes. Risk factors include teens lack of driving skills and experiences behind the wheel and the unstructured time that summer brings with kids out of school and not having as many activities such as sports and clubs. There are also other risk factors such as texting while driving, running red lights, driving aggressively and not wearing a seat belt.
What can one do when they’re traveling the roads besides watching out for drivers who are weaving in or out or running red lights? The best thing is to set an example of good driving habits on the road, especially when young people are in the passenger seats, which means cinching that seat belt, no texting or talking on the phone, no eating or drinking while steering.
And to play a part in keeping impaired drivers off the road, of course, when you’re hosting a party, make arrangements for your guests who will be indulging themselves.
The summertime should be time for fun, not for tears. Let’s keep the roads in our community safe, not only for the next few months but all year long. It just takes making a few wise decisions.