INDIANA — The Fourth of July is one of America’s most iconic holidays, but it’s also one of the deadliest times of the year to be on the road. Amid a rising number of traffic fatalities, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) is urging motorists to celebrate responsibly by driving safe and sober this Independence Day.
“On average, we’re losing about 16 people every week in fatal collisions in Indiana,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “We can’t allow this to become the ‘new normal.’ Everyone needs to examine the decisions they’re making and commit to safe driving, especially over the holiday weekend.”
Since the start of the pandemic, traffic fatalities have been on the rise across the state and nation. Last year in Indiana, a total of 931 people lost their lives on the road – the highest in the past decade. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that has continued in 2022.
Early estimates from ICJI show that 404 people have been killed in crashes so far this year. That’s 17 more when compared to the same time in 2021.
Evidence suggests that the rising death toll stems from an increase in dangerous driving behavior, which worsened during the pandemic but also tends to be more prevalent around certain holidays like the Fourth of July. While impaired driving has been a significant factor, speeding, distracted driving, and not wearing a seat belt are also concerns, according to state officials.
“We’re seeing increases in almost every category of unsafe driving, well above where we want to be this time of year,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. “It’s important to remember these aren’t just statistics. These are people whose lives were tragically lost. We need the public to recognize that so much of this is preventable.”
Most deaths and injuries due to crashes are avoidable if drivers and members of the public exercise caution and follow the rules of the road: slow down, wear a seat belt, pay attention and drive sober.
For those attending Fourth of July parties, plan ahead for a safe ride home by designating a sober driver in advance or by using a ride service or public transportation. Never let friends get behind the wheel if they’re impaired.
To further prevent drunk driving, ICJI’s Sober Ride Indiana program is running a special holiday campaign in Ft. Wayne and Indianapolis this weekend. From July 1-4, the program is offering $15 off Uber and Lyft rides up to 1,000 redemptions (per city).
Ride credits are only available between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. while supplies last. To redeem a discounted ride, visit SoberRideIndiana.com.
For a list of safe driving tips, visit www.NHTSA.gov/risky-driving. Motorists are encouraged to report suspected impaired drivers by calling 911 or contacting their local police department.
About the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) is the state planning agency for criminal justice, juvenile justice, traffic safety, and victim services. ICJI is designated as the state administering agency for the distribution of federal funds and as the state Statistical Analysis Center for research. ICJI is responsible for coordinating and collaborating with local, state, and federal entities to identify, assess, plan, resource, and evaluate new and emerging issues facing the criminal justice and public safety spectrum. Visit www.cji.in.gov to learn more about the agency.