TOPEKA – As families and friends make plans to celebrate the Fourth of July, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Kansas is reminding adults to plan ahead for a non-drinking designated driver — whether on the road or on the water — if alcohol will be a part of the festivities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 161 people were killed in drunk driving crashes nationwide over Fourth of July weekend in 2011 (the most recent year for which there is data), which represents a 70 percent increase over the average number of drunk driving deaths per day.
In addition to the dangers posed by drunk driving on roadways, the United States Coast Guard reports that alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in boating fatalities last year; in fact, it was the leading factor in 17 percent of boating deaths.
“The dangers of drinking and driving are the same, whether you’re on the road or on the water,” said Chris Mann, Chairman, MADD Kansas. “MADD wants Kansas residents to know that preventing tragedy can be as simple as planning ahead for a non-drinking designated driver on the Fourth of July and year-round.”
On August 29, 2010, a drunk driver killed Meghan Will, a 23 year old K-State University student, from Salina, Kansas. Meghan died when the car hit a driveway culvert north of Salina, Ks. The driver had been speeding, driving with a suspended license and had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit when the accident occurred.
“Each crash, each death, each injury, impacts not only the person in the crash, but family, friends, classmates, coworkers and more,” said Mann. “Please take the time to find a designated driver this weekend.”
MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving includes support for high-visibility law enforcement efforts, and as part of the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown around the Fourth of July, law enforcement agencies across the country will be intensifying their efforts to deter and detect drunk driving.