The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that 392 people were killed over a four-day period around the Fourth of July holiday in 2010, making it one of the deadliest holidays on the road.
In response, officers with the Western Arizona DUI Task Force will be out in force looking for drunken drivers for most of this week.
"The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays due to an increase in impaired-driving fatalities," said Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan. "Too many people die behind the wheel each year due to those who choose to drive after drinking, so our officers will be out in full force this Fourth of July showing zero tolerance for impaired drivers."
Officials said drunken driving spikes as the sun goes down as people are leaving barbecues and other parties.
"The amount of alcohol that one can consume during a day-long party or celebration can drastically impair the motor skills needed to drive safely," said Sgt. Don Bischoff, who coordinates the local DUI task force. "Add the fact that many others may be out driving impaired, and that visual skills also decrease at night, and you have a recipe for disaster." Bischoff said that 46 percent of those killed around the Fourth of July in 2010 were between the ages of 18 to 34.
"These are people who have their whole life ahead of them, but in one instant, one act of irresponsibility, they can lose it all," he said. "There is simply too much at stake to ever drive impaired."
The Western Arizona DUI Task Force recommends these simple tips for a safe Fourth of July:
- Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
- If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
- If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don't hesitate to call 911.
- And remember, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over." If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.