PARKERSBURG - The July 4 holiday is traditionally one of the deadliest of the year for alcohol-related deaths, according to the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Highway Safety Program.
To try and reduce the number of fatalities in the Mid-Ohio Valley police will be out in force over the holiday looking for drunken drivers.
Area law enforcement agencies that have received overtime funds to conduct driving under the influence enforcement include Parkersburg, Vienna St. Marys, Harrisville, West Union, Pennsboro, Ripley, Ravenswood, Grantsville and Spencer police departments and the Wood, Wirt, Ritchie, Doddridge, Jackson, and Roane County sheriff's departments.
Impaired driving crashes killed more than 10,000 people in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That's an average of one alcohol impaired driving fatality every 51 minutes, and the percentage of deaths from impaired driving spikes around July 4, according to officials with the highway safety program.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 392 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2010 July 4 holiday period. Of those fatalities, 39 percent were in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or higher.
"Too often when people are celebrating on July 4, they aren't thinking about the consequences that their actions could have on their family or on others," said Toni Tiano with the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Highway Safety Program. "As people gather with their family and friends to celebrate our nation's birthday, we want to remind you to plan ahead to keep you and your loved ones safe."
The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Highway Safety Program recommends these tips for a safe July 4 holiday:
*?Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
*?Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
*?If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
*?If you see a drunken driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
*?If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.
Tiano said designating a sober driver is one of many ways to stay safe this Fourth of July.
"The amount of alcohol that one can consume during a day-long party or celebration can drastically affect the motor skills necessary to drive safely, add the fact that everyone else is out celebrating, and you have a recipe for disaster," Tiano said.
Nighttime can be particularly deadly for impaired drivers. The proportion of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 was almost five times higher at night, from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. than during the day. During the July 4th holiday period in 2010, more than 80 percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities took place at night.
"What is even more tragic about the statistics is that we see a high number of fatalities among 18- to 34-year-olds," Tiano said. "Forty-six percent of the alcohol-impaired driving fatalities during the 2010 July 4 holiday period were within this age group. These are people who have their whole life ahead of them and in one instant, with one act of irresponsibility, they lose it all. It's time for everyone to do their part and keep the roadways safe.
"Just remember that buzzed driving is drunk driving, so always be responsible. Never get behind the wheel if you've been drinking," said Tiano. "Designate a driver if you're going to drink, call a cab or take public transportation if everyone in your group has been drinking. In the end, if everyone pitches in we can keep our roadways safe this Fourth of July."