The Fourth of July is a holiday traditionally observed by launching aerial explosives into the sky, but being struck by a stray bottle rocket isn't the greatest danger many of us face. That dishonorable designation instead goes to a high-risk activity that mars several of our national holidays: drunken driving. And statistically, the holiday period that runs from 6 p.m. July 3 to 5:59 a.m. July 5 is one of the deadliest in terms of people killed by intoxicated drivers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2012 holiday weekend alone, 179 people died and 44 percent of those crashes involved a motorist with a blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher. Over the combined holiday periods from 2008 to 2012, there were 765 impaired-driving-related fatalities. In 2012, nearly 15 percent of the drivers had a BAC level of .15 (nearly twice the legal limit) or higher.
"Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive, it impairs your judgment about whether you can or should drive," NHTSA said in a statement promoting its "Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving" campaign. "The reality is you don't have to be wasted to be a menace to everyone around you on the highways."
Here are some other sobering stats from NHTSA on drunken driving:
And here are some tips from NHTSA on how revelers can "do everyone a July 4th favor":