Independence Day celebrates the nation’s cherished asset — our freedom. The Mississippi Department of Transportation urges all Mississippians to keep free from drunk driving this holiday.

According to American Automobile Association, a record 47 million people traveled over the 4th of July holiday last year. The same or more are predicted to travel this Independence Day.

“July 4th is the time to display not only patriotism but also safety and responsibility,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT executive director. “Show your love for this country by keeping it safe and never letting anyone, including yourself, drive impaired.”

During the 2017 4th of July holiday, 237 people were killed in crashes involving at least one driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It was a 23 percent increase from 2016. Nearly 60 percent of those who died were in a vehicle crash involving at least one driver with a BAC of 0.15 or higher — almost twice the legal limit.

To enjoy a safe and responsible holiday, MDOT suggests the following:

• Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before drinking.

• If you are impaired, call a taxi, sober friend or family member or use public transportation.

• If you see a drunk driver on the road, do not hesitate to call local law enforcement.

• If you see someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to arrive home safely.

MDOT has accepted the Toward Zero Deaths as a part of its highway safety plan, and reducing impaired driving is a major component towards that vision.

TZD is a national safety strategy that Mississippi adopted to bring stakeholders together towards a common vision. That vision is a highway system free of fatalities through a sustained decline in transportation-related deaths and injuries.

Every year, traffic crashes claim the lives of more than 32,000 people in the United States.

This holiday, Mississippi law enforcement will be on duty to put an end to drunk driving through increased sobriety checkpoints, roving and saturation patrols and other enforcement efforts.

For more safety tips from MDOT, visit www.GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.

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