St. John Watch by Elton Lewis

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Celebrating Safely

July 4 is the second most deadly holiday period of the year — just behind New Year’s. In 2004, at least 253 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes across America during the Fourth of July holiday period. Of those, 225 fatalities involved a driver, motorcycle operator or non-occupant with a BAC level of .08 and higher — the illegal limit in the Virgin Islands, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

That is why the Virgin Islands Police Department joins with other national, state and local law enforcement and highway safety officials to work overtime this year to remind anyone planning to use alcohol while celebrating Independence Day that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” and to always remember to designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin.

With nearly half of all traffic fatalities over the July 4 holiday being alcohol-related, we are asking everyone to help us get the word out that buzzed driving is indeed drunk driving and that the ‘just one more for the road’ attitude too often turns into a disaster without the support of a sober designated driver. Too many people still don’t understand that alcohol, drugs and driving don’t mix. Impaired driving is no accident — nor is it a victimless crime. Too many lives are being lost and we need everyone’s help to stop it.

Drunk driving is one of America’s deadliest problems. Overall in 2004, more than 15,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .01 or higher. Of those, nearly 13,000 were killed in crashes where the BAC was .08 or higher.

Much of the tragedy from drunk driving can be prevented with a few simple precautions before going out to celebrate. See below.

Don’t let this Fourth of July blow up in your face. Remember Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. Designate your sober driver before the celebrations begin.

For more information, please visit the Web site www.StopImpairedDriving.org.

Prevent Tragedy with Some Precautions Before Going Out To Celebrate:

• Whenever you plan on using alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys;

• If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit, or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely;

• Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement; • Wearing your safety belt or protective gear on your motorcycle is your best defense against an impaired driver;

• While traveling to and from celebrations on your motorcycle, remember to make yourself visible and ride your motorcycle where you can be seen to avoid a crash;

• And remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.