Lighter Maryland Traffic Expected for July 4 Holiday — But Drunk Driving Accidents Still a Public Safety Concern

Blame it on the economy and high gas prices…and maybe a little Maryland driver fatigue.

AAA Mid-Atlantic projects that Maryland traffic this 4th of July holiday weekend will be 2 percent lighter than last year, with an estimated 760,000 Maryland drivers taking to our state’s roads and highways. Those who aren’t piling into their cars, minivans, and SUVs to seek fun in the Maryland sun may opt for the “staycation” alternative instead. That is, leaving the family auto parked in the driveway is cheaper and safer than jockeying with other July 4 motorists.

But fewer July 4 holiday drivers doesn’t mean driving this weekend in Maryland is without risks. Any holiday brings with it the risk of drunk driving accidents. A cooler full of beer is a backyard barbecue staple at many homes — particularly on a hot Fourth of July afternoon.

People get into trouble, however, when they knock back a few drinks as they celebrate the Independence Day holiday, and then think they’re OK to drive home over Maryland back roads, highways, and Baltimore city streets. You don’t have to be falling down drunk to be impaired and a risk to yourself and other motorists and pedestrians on the roadways. Statistics tell a sobering story:

> The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2008, a total 591 Maryland traffic accident deaths occurred.

> Of those Md. traffic accident fatalities, 26% of drivers had blood-alcohol content (BAC) levels above the legal limit of .08

> Others had even more to drink before hitting the road and becoming involved in fatal Maryland auto crashes: 16% of drivers had a BAC of .15+

> Still, a percentage of drivers involved in fatal Md. auto accidents had BACs below the legal limit — but still had some alcohol in their systems: NHTSA reports that 6% of drivers had a BAC between .01 and .07 %, bringing the total number of drivers in fatal auto crashes in Maryland in 2008 with a BAC of .01 or higher to 31%. That’s nearly a third of all fatal crashes in Md. involving alcohol. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2008 Data: Alcohol-Impaired Driving)

The Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland State Police will be out in force this July 4 holiday weekend, with DUI saturation patrols looking to find and stop drunk drivers. Last year, Maryland police arrested 163 people for drunk driving over the July 4 weekend — issuing more than 7,000 traffic citations and 5,000 warnings. Seven people died in Maryland auto accidents over the last 4th of July holiday. As an experienced Baltimore car accident injury lawyer, I know that one death on Maryland’s roads and highways is one too many. Families’ lives are shattered in an instant.

While we Maryland traffic accident injury attorneys work hard to help grieving families through the legal process (when issues of liability on the other driver’s part are involved) — we can’t bring back the loved ones who were killed on the roads in Maryland.

See a link below to an interesting report that Time magazine just published, asserting that “buzzed driving is drunk driving” and that no amount of alcohol is a “safe” amount for drivers to consume and then get behind the wheel. The article points to research that even one beer can contribute to the driver speeding, becoming the “striking vehicle,” and getting involved in more severe car accidents. So be careful out there this holiday weekend. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Maryland Governor Aims to Curb Drunk Driving Traffic Accidents and Deaths Feb. 5, 2010

Fewer Maryland travelers expected July 4
The Baltimore Sun June 27, 2011
Driving While Buzzed: No Amount of Alcohol Is Safe Behind the Wheel June 22, 2011
AAA Mid Atlantic

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