National Transportation Safety Board Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker prompted Americans today to keep safety in mind when celebrating our nation’s independence this Fourth of July weekend.

“Everyone enjoys celebrating Independence Day — and it is important to do so,” said Rosenker in a press statement. “The NTSB would simply like to remind Americans to take some time to think about the safety of themselves as well as others while enjoying the festivities.”

Rosenker stressed several issues to keep in mind this holiday weekend, particularly highway safety. Highway transportation accounts for more than 90% of all transportation fatalities in the United States today. As a result, the NTSB has long campaigned for safety improvements for highway travel, including mandatory seat belt laws, child restraints, and advocacy against hard core drinking and driving.

The Chairman urged partygoers to not operate motor vehicles or boats of any kind if they have consumed any alcoholic beverages. “Getting behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol endangers not only your own life, but the lives as others as well.”

Other safety procedures to be mindful of this Fourth of July include the following:
  • Use personal floatation devices (PFDs) for recreational boating. More than 700 boaters die on U.S. waterways every year, and about 70% of those are by drowning. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the use of PFDs (life jackets) would have prevented at least 80% of those drowning deaths.
  • Restrict cell phone or other electronic device use while driving. These gadgets may seem helpful, but they can be a serious distraction and endanger yourself and others while operating a vehicle.
  • Make sure young children and infants are securely fastened in child safety seats or booster seats that are fit to their size and are placed in rear seats. This alone reduces fatal injury risk by about a third among those 12 and younger.
“Safety during this holiday weekend and all those to come is everyone’s responsibility,” said Rosenker. For safety alerts on boating and highway transportation, please visit the NTSB Web site at http://www.ntsb.gov/alerts/alerts.htm.