PEORIA, Ill. — Drunk driving takes the lives of thousands each year.
And July is the deadliest month.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms more people die in drunk driving crashes in July than any other month.
But police say these aren’t just national statistics. The same trends are happening here in Peoria.
“It’s startling, to be honest – it makes me want to be more careful when I’m out,” Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said.
Fatalities related to drugs and alcohol spike in the summer months. Harwood confirmed 44 percent of DUI crash fatalities happen between the months of June and August
“44 percent is a lot,” Harwood said.
The 4th of July plays a big role. Festivities like fireworks displays, barbecues and other celebrations surrounding the fourth often involve drinking. People are likely to risk driving impaired, which makes it that more important to take precautions before going out.
Pat Sullivan owns Kellehers Irish pub in Peoria. He stresses the importance of being safe.
“Have fun, but be safe – especially 4th of July, there’s gonna be a lot of people down here – take it easy.”
Sullivan says his staff is trained to spot potentially dangerous behavior.
“That’s why you have trained bartenders and waitresses that can say, ‘Hey, I don’t think you should be driving,'” Sullivan said.
Kelleher’s also offers free non alcoholic drinks to designated drivers.
Above all you must take precaution and not put yourself – or others – in dangerous situations.
“They need to be cautious, they need to be cognizant that its not just their life that they’re putting at risk or in danger,” Harwood said, “It’s somebody else, it’s somebody else’s child or parent or sibling.”
To best stay safe Harwood recommends having a designated driver available during festivities or using rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft.
“Take a safe ride. That’s all there is to it. Take a safe ride.”