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Walk, Bike, and Drive Safely this Independence Day

Updated: Jul 16

With the Summer Solstice come and gone, summer is officially here! Baseball has its time to shine, outdoor concerts are in full swing and the seasonal festivities can begin. The first of which takes place on a Thursday— the 4th of July. As everyone scrambles to get their pools ready, grills stacked with hamburgers and hot dogs, and safe light displays set up, Walk Safe Long Island reminds you  to be safe while still enjoying the holiday.


Even if you have Friday off, drinking responsibly should not be discarded. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fourth of July Campaign reminds us of the dangers of drunk driving. From 2018 to 2022 there was a recorded 2,228 traffic crash fatalities, 1,414 of which were drivers, 39% of those drivers were drunk. In 2022 alone, 196 fatalities occurred due to drunk driving, 27% of those fatalities recorded a blood alcohol level even at or above .15g/dL, almost twice the legal limit. Drunk driving, buzzed driving, and high driving are all preventable and fatal, think of yourself and others before grabbing your keys on the 4th.


Although drunk driving poses a major public safety issue on the 4th, walkers and cyclists are not immune to the effects of alcohol. Drunk walking and biking are just as dangerous as drunk driving.

 

According to the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, n July 4, 2023, there were 81 crashes on Suffolk, with 35 injuries, and one fatality. Of those crashes, two were pedestrian crashes, resulting in one injury. The cause of those crashes were an inexperienced driver and pedestrian error. In Nassau, there were 60 crashes on July 4 last year, with 27 injuries, and no fatalities. Two of those crashes involved pedestrians resulting in three injuries. Both of those accidents occurred due to distracted driving. Although motorists can certainly cause crashes, pedestrians and cyclists should take care to walk and bike defensively by following the law and remaining as alert as possible, which is hindered under the influence of alcohol. With the recent legalization of marijuana in New York State, it’s important to note that walking or biking high poses the same risk as walking or biking drunk.


To prevent further crashes and loss, being safe both behind the wheel and on foot while drinking can save lives. Remember that the main goal is not to walk impaired, stay at your destination until sober or a safe ride is available. Here are some tips to use when planning your 4th of July festivities:


Plan ahead, ask someone to be your designated driver or volunteer yourself. It takes one hour per one drink to fully process in your body, even if you feel fine don’t take the risk.

Find non-alcoholic alternatives to stay hydrated and satisfied.

If walking, remain on the sidewalk or a safe distance from the road, walk against the flow of traffic and wear reflective gear to remain seen.


While celebrating the summer, remember to be safe and smart, and look out for yourself and others. If you choose to drink or use marijuana, plan ahead, and give yourself time to sober up. Drink water and eat to support your body and pace your drinks. If you feel uneasy, take a break, and most importantly, have fun!


 

About Walk Safe Long Island (WSLI)


WSLI is a pedestrian and cyclist safety campaign that aims to teach Long Islanders about walking and biking safely through law-based education. WSLI is produced for the New York Coalition for Transportation Safety by the Long Island Health Collaborative, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with a grant from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.


New York State is taking numerous measures to tackle the issue of pedestrian and cyclist safety, all of which culminate in the New York State Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (PSAP). The plan emphasizes making streets safer by implementing the “Three Es—” engineering, enforcement, and education. Walk Safe Long Island is part of the third “E,” education.

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