El Centro, CA â€“ Most Americans may not realize it, but the Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
Thatâ€™s why this Fourth of July law enforcement throughout Imperial County is stepping up enforcement efforts as part of the ongoing Avoid the 8 DUI Task Force, joining thousands of agencies statewide in the â€œDrive Sober or Get Pulled Overâ€ enforcement crackdown to catch and arrest impaired drivers who put themselves and others at risk.
â€œThe Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays due to impaired-driving fatalities,â€ said El Centro Police Department Executive Commander Eddie MadueÃ±o. Â â€œToo many people die behind the wheel each year due to those who choose to drive after drinking, so our officers will be out in full force this Fourth of July holiday weekend showing zero tolerance for impaired drivers.â€
To save lives on our roadways the Imperial County DUI Task Force will be cracking down on drug and alcohol impaired driving, deploying officers to a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint, and three DUI saturation patrols.Â The CHP will be deploying all available officers onto freeways and county roads for its Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP).Â Enforcement operations will run between July 3rd through July 7th.
Impaired-driving crashes killed more than 10,000 people in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States.Â Â Thatâ€™s an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 51 minutes. Even without a crash, there are numerous consequences as a result of being caught driving impaired, such as jail time, insurance hikes, loss of driverâ€™s license, embarrassment, and costs up to $10,000, just to name a few.
But the percentage of fatalities from impaired driving spike around the Fourth of July. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 392 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the Fourth of July holiday in 2010 (6:00pm July 2- 5:59am July 6.)Â Â Of those fatalities, 39 percent were in crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.
Often Fourth of July celebrations start during the day, but last well into the night â€“ making the dangers from impaired drivers even higher at night.
â€œThe amount of alcohol that one can consume during a day-long party or celebration can drastically impair the motor skills needed to drive safely,â€ said Executive Commander MadueÃ±o. â€œAdd the fact that many others may be out driving impaired, and that visual skills also decrease at night, and you have a recipe for disaster.â€
What is even more tragic about the statistics is the high number of fatalities among 18- to 34-year-olds. Forty-six percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities during the 2010 Fourth of July holiday period were within this age group. These are people who have their whole life ahead of them, but in one instant, one act of irresponsibility, they can lose it all.
â€œThose who try to drink and drive this Fourth of July should be forewarned. We will be out in force looking for impaired drivers, and we will catch and arrest you.Â No warnings. No excuses,â€ said Executive Commander MadueÃ±o.
The Avoid the 8 DUI Task Force recommends these simple tips for a safe Fourth of July:
- Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
- If youâ€™re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
- If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, donâ€™t hesitate to report it – Call 911!
- And remember, â€œDrive Sober or Get Pulled Over.â€ If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
- For more information, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/drivesober.
Avoid the 8 DUI Task Force funding is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.