July 4 deadliest driving dayA new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that July 4 is the deadliest day for drivers on the road, with more than 800 people killed nationwide on the holiday from 2006-2010.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that July 4 is the deadliest day for drivers on the road, with more than 800 people killed nationwide on the holiday from 2006-2010.
In North Dakota, 12 people died in car crashes in July 2010.
The IIHS is a nonprofit organization based out of Arlington, Va., that carries out research regarding motor vehicle crashes and produces ratings for passenger vehicles.
“Our crash numbers (for July 4) are definitely up, which is one big reason why we increase our enforcement efforts throughout the holiday and the holiday weekend,” said Sgt. Tom Iverson, North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Some actions, such as drinking and driving as well as texting and driving are considered to be more dangerous than others on the road.
“We just encourage motorists to take extra caution with the increased traffic around the holiday. Obviously people need to avoid things like drinking and driving as well as texting and driving,” Iverson said.
According to the IIHS data, if projections for July 4 car crashes remain true this year, 140 people nationwide will die Wednesday.
“It’s probably one of the busiest holidays of the year as far as people being out,” said Scott Edinger, Jamestown police chief.
“We obviously know people are going to be out celebrating, but it’s so important they know their limits and stay within those,” he said.
Edinger said the JPD has about doubled the number of patrols for seat belt safety and driving under the influence in the past year.
“With the elevated number of people out driving, we’ll be out looking for those not wearing seat belts and those who may be drinking and driving,” he said.
Edinger urged anyone who consumes alcoholic beverages to find a sober, designated driver.
“Everybody just needs to be cautious out there and use some common sense, and that should help keep everybody safe,” he said.
Speed is another factor to consider in terms of vehicle accidents as well, according to Jim Harty, president of Harty Insurance of Jamestown.
“There are really two things I always point to: drinking and driving as well as speed,” Harty said. “Speed tends to cause accidents, and can cause bad ones. In my 30-plus years of experience, speed mainly contributes to some of the worst accidents we see,” he said.
Teens accounted for nearly 10 percent of July 4 car crash fatalities, according to the IIHS.
“You get a car full of kids together, it’s just natural they’re going to be having some fun,” Harty said. “Sometimes they end up goofing around and texting while driving, and that’s when these teenagers get really distracted.”
Research from The Allstate Foundation found that 49 percent of teens said texting is their biggest distraction behind the wheel.
In the U.S., car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for everyone ages 1-34, with teens crashing four times more often than any other age group, all according to the IIHS.
Harty said awareness of other vehicles is something all drivers need to be cognizant of when out on the roads.
“I always tell people, ‘Drive defensively,’” he said. “You can avoid a lot of things by being more cautious out there and by being a defensive driver.”
Iverson said that type of extra-cautious driving is especially important for teens who may be riding with more than one passenger.
“Teenagers need to be ready for the busy roadways,” he said. “It’s a happy time and it’s a good time to celebrate, but it’s also important to avoid that distracted driving that often takes place with multiple passengers in a vehicle.”
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org