This year's 4th of July celebrations promise to be record-breaking when it comes to travel. In 2019, AAA estimates that travel volume for this holiday will increase by 4.1% from last year. Over 41 million people are expected to jump on the roads and drive to their holiday destinations. While we all love hot dogs and BBQs, beers and fireworks, taking some precautions this July 4 can keep you and your family safe. Our team at Huber Thomas & Marcelle compiled our most important July 4 safety tips for those who are traveling in or around New Orleans this year.
1. Avoid high traffic times
Many other holiday travelers have the same idea as you: with a long holiday weekend, head out of town on Wednesday afternoon so you can start relaxing as soon as possible.
Reconsider this plan.
AAA reports that one of the worst days for travel in multiple metropolitan areas is the afternoon of Wednesday, July 3, typically from 12-4 PM. Nationwide, delays may increase by up to 9% leading to more people on the road, all of them in a hurry to get out of town. That means more car accidents.
Other high period times are July 4 afternoon, as many heads to local events, and Friday, July 5.
If you can, try to drive during times that are less busy. Mornings are generally quieter on the roads, except for Sunday, when people are returning home.
2. Be vigilant about drunk driving
The July 4 holiday is a celebration of our country's founding, but it's also a day that marks another grim occasion. It's the top beer-drinking holiday in the country, which means it historically has the most drunk driving incidents, alcohol-impaired accidents, and drunk driving fatalities.
From 2007 to 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded more than 61 traffic fatalities per day over the long weekend. Don't become a statistic. Be vigilant about avoiding and preventing drunk driving with the following tips.
3. Designate a committed sober driver for all activities
The entire Independence Day weekend may have more cars on the road, but it's the day of July 4 when you must be most vigilant about drunk drivers.
Whether it's you, a family member, or a friend, make sure you discuss who will be the designated driver before you leave for an event. This person should avoid all forms of alcohol, as they'll have to be vigilant about themselves and other drivers on the road.
4. Hire a taxi or rideshare if you plan to drink
One of our most important July 4 safety tips is that there's no safe level of drinking and driving on this holiday. Between sun exposure and long all-day events, fatigue and dangerously high levels of intoxication can come on fast.
If everyone in your party wants to drink, make it a safe holiday by booking a taxi or rideshare option. Companies like Uber and Lyft often have more drivers on the road during busy times, ready and available to bring you home. Book one ahead of time to beat the rush after an event or leave at an off-time.
Bonus: hiring a driver helps you avoid any parking issues at larger community events.
5. Avoid travel immediately after festivities end
Likewise, most community events end between 10-11 PM. This is when there will be the most cars on the road, potentially with the highest number of intoxicated drivers.
If you can, don't take the risk.
Make a plan to leave the event early, spend it within walking distance of your own house, or find an open place nearby to wait until most people are off the roads. (This is easy to do if you're in the heart of the city for Go Fourth On The River!)
If you're at a family or friend's celebration, ask them if you can stay later to avoid peak travel times.
6. Take additional precautions when drinking
It can't be overstated. Drunk driving is a danger to you, your family, and other drivers. You may think you're okay to drive, but remember on the July 4 weekend, there are certain factors that can increase your risk.
For example, most people will attend outdoor events or hang out by the pool. During these early days of summer, ensure you're staying hydrated if drinking and getting plenty of time in the shade.
Long-term sun exposure can dehydrate you, leading you to higher levels of intoxication. If you're not sure if you can drive, don't. Hire a rideshare, a taxi, or ask a sober person to drive you home.
7. Think beyond the car
Many also neglect to think of other forms of driving over the holiday, especially boating.
July 4 is often the deadliest day for boating accidents, the American Boating Association reports. If you plan to enjoy your holiday on the water, treat it with the same vigilance as operating a car. Designate a sober driver, make sure your emergency equipment is functioning, and be aware of other boats.
If you decide to cycle to and from your festivities, be extra vigilant about drivers on the road. Wear bright, reflective clothing and ensure your lights are working properly.
8. Be aware of other July 4 safety tips
Car accidents, especially those involving intoxicated drivers, represent one of the largest dangers during your Independence Day weekend. These accidents can result in everything from minor property damage to serious injuries to death. Always stay cautious and use common sense when traveling.
However, there are other July 4 safety tips you should be aware of.
Be safe around fireworks
Fireworks are brilliant and beautiful, but they're also explosives.
In 2017, eight people died because of fireworks accidents. Almost 13,000 had injuries that were serious enough to send them to the emergency room.
Never allow young children near or around fireworks. Beyond that, always follow the fireworks safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Don't forget food safety
A long day spent lounging around the pool or on the lake is a great way to spend the holiday. However, if you have food out during these events make sure someone is responsible for keeping it safe. Foodborne illnesses can lead to hospitalizations or even death.
That means cold foods should stay cold and hot foods stay hot. Whether you're picnicking beside the Mississippi or in your own backyard, don't leave perishable foods outside for more than an hour if the temperature is above 90⁰F. Find full food safety tips from the USDA.
Protect your pets
It may be the nation's birthday, but July 4 is a dangerous day for Fido.
Because of the loud, scary noises, it's the day when most pets go missing during the year. They may jump a fence, break out of a gate, or snap their leash to get away from the sounds. Make sure their tags are current and your pets are microchipped.
Leave your pets locked inside at home or in a safe kennel or boarding facility. Don't bring them to overcrowded, unfamiliar parks and don't leave them in parked cars. Find even more July 4 safety tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Find support after July 4
Even if you did everything right, sometimes accidents can still happen. If you were involved in a car, boat, or bicycle accident over the July 4 weekend, the attorneys at Huber Thomas & Marcelle can help. If you were injured or suffered property damage because of negligent fireworks use, we can also help.
We know that these types of accidents can have long-term effects, from physical to mental to financial damages. Our team is committed to helping you recover and get the support you need.
Don't hesitate to give us a call about your case. We can discuss your options after an accident.