Among the parties, parades and fireworks, it is easy to get caught up in Independence Day festivities. According to AAA, 44.2 million people are expected to travel over the Fourth of July Weekend, more Americans than ever before. With more motorists on the road this year, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) reminds holiday travelers not to let celebrations distract them from safety.

“Zero deaths on highways should be the goal for Mississippi,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “Deciding against drinking and driving can help us drive the state toward this goal.”

Independence Day is already known for being one of the most travelled and dangerous times of the year. An increase of travelers combined with more celebrating, escalates the risk of drunk driving.

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, don’t 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 vision as a part of our highway safety plan, and reducing impaired driving is one of the strategies toward that vision,” McGrath said. “Get in the game and do your part to keep our highways safe.”

Toward Zero Deaths (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.

“Twenty-six percent of traffic deaths in Mississippi involve alcohol,” McGrath said. “Find a designated driver if you’ll be drinking. Not only is it illegal, but you could endanger your life and others by getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.”

Every year, traffic crashes claim the lives of more than 32,000 people in the United States –that’s 32,000 people taken from their family and friends. Despite the efforts of thousands of people working nationwide to make our roadways safer, traffic fatalities are still on the rise. As a nation we need a common zero-based goal and we need your help. Every individual or group who supports the Toward Zero Deaths vision moves us one step zero fatalities on highways in Mississippi.

Stay independent from drunk driving this Fourth of July. Never let yourself or a friend drive impaired.

For more safety tips and information regarding Toward Zero Deaths, visit