MoDOT recommends few tips before driving this holiday weekend

JEFFERSON CITY – After months of quarantine, the Fourth of July will put many on the road for some holiday weekend fun. While noted as one of the busiest summer holidays, it’s also one of the deadliest due to increased travel and substance-impaired drivers, a Missouri Department of Transportation press release states.

Alcohol, illegal and prescription drugs, and even some over-the-counter medicines can cause impairment. Local law enforcement will be out July 2-6 with increased efforts to prevent impaired drivers.

“No warnings. No excuses,” the release states.

Those caught driving impaired will be arrested.

“Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has serious consequences,” said Nicole Hood, MoDOT highway safety and traffic engineer. “In 2019, law enforcement made 93 substance-impaired driving related arrests during the Fourth of July impaired driving campaign across the state.”

Often, people have a hard time recuperating financially from the cost of a crash or arrest itself, the release states. Violators risk killing or harming others, facing jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses from attorney fees, fines and court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost time at work.

There were 15 people killed and 58 seriously injured in traffic crashes in Missouri over the 2019 July Fourth holiday. Of the 73 people killed or injured, 18 were involved in a crash where there was at least one substance-impaired driver. The 15 fatalities included three motorcyclists, one ATV occupant and 11 vehicle occupants, with 80% of the 11 vehicle occupants being unbuckled.

The 58 serious injuries included two pedestrians, 11 motorcyclists and 45 vehicle occupants with 65% being unbelted.

Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety recommends these simple tips to avoid an impaired-driving disaster:

• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.

• Before drinking, designate a sober driver.

• If you’re impaired, use a driving service like a taxi, Uber or Lyft, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.

• If you happen to see an impaired driver on the road, call local law enforcement.

• Always wear your seat belt.

• Put your phone down.

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