ITHACA, N.Y. —  Plan a safe way home before you head out to 4th of July celebrations this weekend. New York State Police and local agencies will be on high alert for drunk and drugged drivers over the holiday weekend.

The 4th of July is one of the busiest summer holidays for travel, and New York State Police say they will be conducting sobriety checkpoints and watching out for speeding, people using their cellphones and other infractions. Drivers should also remember to move over for stopped emergency and hazard vehicles stopped on the side of the road.

In addition to being one of the busiest travel holidays, it also considered one of the deadliest. More people die in motor vehicle crashes on the 4th of July than any other day of the year, according analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In 2015, 146 people died nationwide in alcohol-related crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and two thirds of those crashes involved at least one driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or higher, which is nearly twice the legal limit.

Funded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Traffic Safety Committee, the STOP-DWI crackdown begins Saturday and will run through Tuesday.

Last year, state police alone issued about 11,000 vehicle and traffic tickets over the 4th of July weekend. State police also arrested 206 people for drunk driving and responded to 756 crashes, three of which were fatal. In addition, local law enforcement across the state arrested 212 people for driving while impaired.

In a news release, New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said: “To prevent tragedies caused by impaired, distracted, aggressive or reckless driving, Troopers will be out in force this holiday weekend, and on the lookout for motorists who put others in danger. Our message is simple:  If you drink and drive, it’s very likely that you will end up in jail. Stay safe, and don’t make a fatal decision that costs your life or someone else’s.”
The New York State Police and NHTSA recommend these tips to prevent drunk driving:

  • 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;
  • Use your community’s sober ride program;
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement;
  • 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.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.