From morning parades to fireworks in the night sky, here are a few tips to keep everyone on and off the road…SAFE!
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), Independence Day is the most dangerous day of the year to be on the road. IIHS finds the cause of the largest number of crashes in one single day of the year to be mainly caused by alcohol impairment. The take-away? Be aware that some drivers on the very same road as you’re on might not be sober. A little extra caution and attention to details can go a long way whenever driving, especially in potentially dangerous situations. Imagine you are driving in a heavy thunderstorm, of course you’re going to slow down a bit to pay more attention to where the other vehicles on the road are. Impaired drivers aren’t always as obvious as torrential rain.
With an average of 26 deaths on the holiday, IIHS also notes that motorcycles are the most likely to be involved in Fourth of July accidents. Wearing protective gear- specifically a regulation helmet is obviously highly advised, but what about what us drivers of cars and trucks can do to help prevent a motorcycle involved crash?
1. Look before you turn or change lanes- especially checking your blind spots. Really look, not just a quick glance, something the size of a trash truck can’t be missed. Noticing a two wheeled bike takes a little more effort.
2. Manage your speed along corners. Having more time to react to a sudden surprise on the other end of the curve could save someone’s life.
3. Back Off! Tailgating any vehicle is a recipe for an eventual disaster- for a small vehicle driver it can be deadly.
And now for the the fireworks safety conversation. According to a 2016 Consumer Product Safety Commission report almost 12,000 people were treated for firework injuries in 2015- most of which happened around the Fourth of July. The previous link includes safety tips to avoid a not-so-happy holiday. Not only are fireworks potentially very dangerous to ourselves and loved ones, they can also be dangerous to our landscapes and homes. Because of this many municipalities have specific laws regarding which, if any fireworks are allowed. For a Kansas City Metro list click here.
Last but not least, always remember your pets don’t have a clue what this whole popping and booming is all about. The sound of fireworks terrifies most of our furry friends sending them off into a sometimes unrecognizable place far from home. Already two days before the celebration officially begins and social media community groups are filling with posts of missing dogs and cats.
As the final note of “Stars and Stripes” pours from the piccolo- As the last shower of black powder falls through the air in glowing red, white and blue- As the silent still hot darkened sky hangs heavy with the thick smell of sulfur that remains in our memories from childhood into eternity- As you slowly eke your way out of the parking lot and into the snails-pace traffic jam- recall your feelings of gratitude for this day. Get home safely, two wheels, four wheels and all fingers superbly intact.