By Arkansas State Police
The Independence Day holiday will be a prolonged celebration this year, as the nation’s birthday occurs on a Monday. Many Arkansas families will start their travel plans Friday with varied destinations over the following three days. With increased traffic volume anticipated, comes the risk of tragedy often attributed to a drunk driver.
Law enforcement officers across the state are aware of these risks and know firsthand what can happen when a driver mixes alcohol with a holiday celebration. All too often the end result is injury or death. This is why Arkansas State Troopers, sheriff’s deputies and local police officers will increase their patrols to be on guard against impaired drivers, getting them off the roadways before anyone can be hurt.
“We want Arkansans to enjoy our nation’s birthday celebration, but not at the expense of making state highways, county roads, and city streets unsafe,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Unfortunately, far too many drivers make the wrong decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming one or two alcoholic drinks, or using drugs, placing other motorists in harm’s way. Our state troopers along with other law enforcement officers will be prepared to stop and arrest these dangerous drivers to ensure the safety of all.”
From 2016 to 2020, there were 1,390 drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the July 4th holiday period. Thirty-nine percent (542) of the drivers killed were alcohol impaired (with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher), and more than half (51%) were between the ages of 21-34.
With many holiday festivities wrapping up late in the evening, nighttime hours are especially dangerous. Over the 2020 Independence Day holiday period, of the 201 people who died in alcohol impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, 85% of the crashes were at night (6 PM – 5:59 AM).
This Fourth of July, the Arkansas Highway Safety Office and NHTSA are working together to urge drivers to designate a sober driver before drinking any alcohol. If you plan on drinking, do not plan to drive.
The Arkansas Highway Safety Office recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
• Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
• If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
• Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.
For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.
Learn more about Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign intended to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit highway safety office web site https://www.tzdarkansas.org/