Don’t become a statistic this Fourth of July

July Fourth is upon us, and most of us are looking forward to firing up our barbecues, heading to the beach and spending time with the family while celebrating our nation’s independence.

Many of our island residents will be heading to Vidinha Stadium to catch Kauai Hospice’s annual Concert in the Sky, while others will be heading to the Westside for the Kekaha Fourth of July Celebration event, which organizers put on for free each year.

No matter where you end up spending your Independence Day holiday, be mindful of this statistic: According to research from the nonprofit Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, July 4 is the deadliest day on the road for all Americans.

The institute reported more than 670 people were killed on July 4 from 2007 to 2011, which averaged to 134 deaths each year. That is, on average, 40 more deaths than any other given day of the year.

Moreover, teens account for six percent of the fatalities that occur on July 4.   

There’s many reasons for this — distracted driving, drunken driving and speeding.

On Kauai, it’s tragic to drive by memorials on the side of the highway that marks the departure of a loved one.

With school out and many businesses closed for the holiday, there’s more people on the roads, creating a greater chance of an accident.

But there are easy ways to reduce these tragedies.

Whether you’re heading to around the corner or to the other side of the island, be sure to have a designated driver.

If you don’t have a designated driver, call a taxi or have a friend or family member pick you up.

If you find yourself in the passenger seat while the driver is texting or not paying attention to the road, speak up and let the driver know they are putting you at risk.

And if you are teen, that’s no problem.

According to a survey from The Allstate Foundation, 87 percent of teenagers said they would speak up in a car with someone who was driving in a way that made them feel scared or comfortable.

No matter how old you are, before you head out to the beach, potluck or wherever you are going to celebrate this Independence Day, take a few extra minutes to plan ahead.

It may save a life.

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