Drunk Driving Can Surge 39% Over the July 4th Weekend

Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) warns that deaths from drunk driving-related crashes can surge 39% over the July 4th weekend, which could mean one life lost every 24 minutes, based on the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This comes as AAA projects the upcoming holiday weekend will set a July Fourth travel record, with more than 43 million Americans expected on the road.

“For millions of Americans, July 4th celebrations include alcohol—which means they should also include plans for a designated driver, ride-sharing service, taxi or public transportation,” said MADD CEO Stacey D. Stewart. “Until everyone consistently makes safer choices and all cars come with technology that can prevent impaired driving, MADD will be here to support victims and work to end impaired driving for good.” 

Despite being fully preventable, deaths from impaired driving have been on the rise in the U.S. This July 4th, MADD is promoting tips to help people intervene if they are faced with a situation where someone who’s impaired is trying to drive. The organization also is reminding the public to exercise additional caution on the roads, including using seatbelts, which one of the best ways for people to protect themselves from a drunk driver.

“As someone who survived a serious crash caused by an alleged impaired driver, I urge everyone to remember that making the responsible choice can save a life, while impaired driving can change a life forever,” said MADD National President Tess Rowland, who was severely injured by a drunk driver in 2021. “It’s heartbreaking to consider that every 24 minutes, someone will head to a cookout, the beach or fireworks display this weekend, but never return—simply because a driver got behind the wheel when they shouldn’t have.”

It is a crime in the U.S. to drive with blood alcohol content at or above .08, except in Utah, where the legal limit is .05. Since it can be hard to calculate whether someone is near the legal limit, it is always safest to not drink and drive.

While impaired driving impacts people of every age, July 4th is one of the “100 Deadliest Days,” a period that runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day and sees more than 30% of deaths involving teen drivers, many involving alcohol. 

Drinking and boating also a concern

Alcohol use is the top factor contributing to fatal boating incidents, accounting for nearly a quarter of boating deaths, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Environmental factors such as water temperature and sun exposure mean that drinkers are just as impaired at a .03 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on the water as a .08 BAC on land, reports the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

MADD recommends that boaters always wear a lifejacket, just as people should always wear a seatbelt in a car. Both help minimize the impact of impairment around vehicles, whether on the roads or waterways.

“As Americans celebrate Independence Day, we also should unite in creating a country that is free from impaired driving, with No More Victims of this senseless crime,” Stewart said.

If you, or someone you love, has been the victim of impaired driving, support is available at no cost 24 hours a day via the MADD Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP (1-877-623-3435) or www.MADD.org.