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Keep July 4th Celebrations Safe, Never Drive Impaired by Alcohol or Other Drugs

38% of Traffic Deaths, 23% of Recreational Boating Deaths Attributed to Impaired Driver

WASHINGTON – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) urges everyone to celebrate safely by planning ahead and designating a non-drinking, unimpaired driver during the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 38% of all motor vehicle deaths during the 2019 July 4th holiday were alcohol related. From 2015 to 2019, 512 drivers who were killed during the July 4th holiday had a blood alcohol content of .08 or above.

MADD National President Alex Otte

The holiday falls on a Sunday this year, making it a long weekend for government employees and many businesses that close on Monday in observance of the federal holiday.

“MADD is especially concerned anytime one of the holidays that are known for gatherings and celebrating with alcohol falls on a weekend. We want those gatherings to be fun, but we also want to make sure everyone gets home in one piece,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “Eleven years ago, over a July 4th weekend exactly like this one, I was a 13-year-old kid who didn’t get to go home at all because of someone else’s choice to drink and drive. I was in a coma for a week, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, a broken neck and collarbone, a shattered jaw, a lacerated liver, two shattered femurs, and the loss of my right leg below the knee because someone decided to operate a boat while drunk.”

Over the July 4th holiday period in 2019 (6 p.m. July 3 – 5:59 a.m. July 8), nighttime was especially dangerous on America’s roads. According to NHTSA, almost 4 out of 5 (79%) fatal traffic crashes occurred between 6 p.m.–5:59 a.m. during the five-day period.

Alcohol use continues to be the leading known contributing factor in recreational boating deaths in the United States. In 2019, when the primary cause is known, alcohol use was listed as the leading factor in 23% of recreational boating deaths. In addition, the 2020 Operation Dry Water campaign from July 3 to July 5 involved 620 agencies that made 625 impaired boating arrests, issued 8,666 citations and 28,659 safety warnings, according to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

“Whether celebrations are on land or on the water this July 4th weekend, it’s so important that if you drink, don’t drive,” Otte said. “As the nation celebrates our independence and our return to normal activities, we want everyone to stay safe and make great memories with their family and friends.”

According to NHTSA:

  • In 2019, 515 people died in motor vehicle crashes over the July 4th holiday period (6 p.m. July 3 – 5:59 a.m. July 8, 2019). 38% (198) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.
  • From 2015 to 2019, there were 1,339 drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the 4th of July holiday period. 38% (512) of the drivers killed were alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08+).
  • During the 2019 July 4th holiday period, 69% of those who died in alcohol-impaired crashes were in a crash involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .15.
  • Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with blood alcohol concentrations [BACs] at or above .08). In 2019, there were 10,142 people killed in drunk-driving crashes.
  • Nationally, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, except in Utah, where the limit is .05 BAC.
  • Although it’s illegal to drive when impaired by alcohol, in 2019, one person was killed every 52 minutes in a drunk driving crash on our nation’s roads.
  • Men are more likely than women to be driving drunk when involved in fatal crashes. In 2019, 21% of males were drunk, compared to 14% of females.
  • Of the traffic fatalities in 2019 among children 14 and younger, 19% (204) occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.
  • Among the 10,142 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in 2019, 68% (6,872) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 or higher.
  • In 2019, motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment than any other type of motor vehicle driver (29% for motorcycle riders, compared to drivers of passenger cars (20%), light trucks (19%), and large trucks (2%).
  • Nighttime is a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads: The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 was 3.3 times higher at night than during the day.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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