CHICAGO- The Fourth of July is one of the most dangerous days on the roads in America, and the distracted driving epidemic could make 2018 another deadly year, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
Preliminary 2017 data from the National Safety Council shows that motor vehicle deaths surpassed 40,000 for the second consecutive year in 2017 and 4.57 million people were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, on average more people die in motor vehicle crashes on the Fourth of July holiday than any other day of the year.
“Vehicle crashes and fatalities are rising sharply across the country, and distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for this alarming trend,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president of personal lines policy at PCI. “Unfortunately, summer holidays like the Fourth of July bring even more congestion and distracted drivers to the roads.”
“People need to understand the risks of distracted driving. Using your smartphone while driving jeopardizes your life, the lives of your passengers, and the lives of those on the road around you,” said Passmore. “Putting down our phones and eliminating other distractions can have a big impact on the safety of our roads on the Fourth of July and every day.”
Simple modifications to driver behaviors can prevent auto crashes and save lives. PCI offers the following tips for safe summer driving.
PCI’s Top 7 Safe Summer Driving Tips:
- Avoid distracted driving. Don’t talk, text, or use apps while driving. Put the phone down and just drive. Try to limit other distractions, such as eating or fiddling with controls, and be aware that having more passengers in the car multiplies the opportunity for distraction. Secure pets in the back of the car.
- Wear your seatbelt. Whether you’re traveling to see friends or family or just running errands, buckle up and drive safely. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads during the summer months, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for auto crashes increases. Plan routes in advance when traveling to new destinations and be patient.
- Designate a driver. Summer holidays are notorious for drinking and driving. If you plan to drink at a Fourth of July celebration, always designate a sober driver or arrange for a taxi or ride service. There can be deadly consequences to alcohol impaired and drug-impaired driving. Whether by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both, impaired driving puts the driver, their passengers, and others on the road at risk.
- Pay attention to your speed. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and be aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Be especially cautious around construction workers. They’re often working close to the highway and at great risk.
- Have a plan for roadside assistance. If you’re involved in a crash, beware of unscrupulous towing companies. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident by charging excessive fees and making it difficult for people to retrieve their cars. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready.
- Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road this summer, replace any expired insurance identification cards so you can provide current proof of insurance during a traffic stop. There are now 46 states with e-card laws or regulations that allow drivers to show evidence of insurance with their smart phone during a traffic stop.
For more auto safety tips, follow PCI on twitter @PCIAA and use #HeadsUp