Traffic expected to be heavy during Independence Day weekend

·3 min read

Jul. 1—LIMA — A whopping 47.7 million Americans are expected to take to the nation's roadways and skies during the Independence Day period (July 1-5), according to the American Automobile Club.

According to a news release, AAA expects this will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. They say that just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019. That's an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year when total travel fell to 34.2 million.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol will be out in full force throughout the state to focus on traffic safety and crash reduction during the Operation CARE July 4th Holiday. The initiative begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 2, and will continue through 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 5.

The campaign is used to help law enforcement raise awareness about the positive impact of reduced speeds, removing impaired drivers, increased seat belt usage and not driving while distracted.

The Fourth of July is traditionally one of the most dangerous times to be on the road with an increase in drunk drivers and deadly crashes, according to a news release from SafeAuto.

SafeAuto is encouraging drivers to play it safe this Fourth of July.

Some tips:

—Be safe while driving — If you're planning to attend a Fourth of July party, don't drink and drive. Keep your phone out of reach while driving to limit any potential smartphone-based distractions. If you're using your phone to navigate, program your route ahead of time and turn on audio directions.

—Essential items to keep you safe — A First-Aid kit and bottles of water are two items to have that could save your life if you get in an accident or your car breaks down. You shouldn't leave home without a portable phone charger or walking shoes in case you need to walk to a gas station or away from danger.

—Don't drive without insurance — People have been driving less during the pandemic, and as a result, may have let their coverage lapse. Don't get behind the wheel until you make sure you're covered.

Many people plan to set off fireworks during the holiday.

Fireworks retailers are reporting a shortage of fireworks as we approach Independence Day.

Springfield Fireworks in Bluffton says they've got about 70% of what they ordered.

"We've got two or three containers that won't be here until after the fourth now ... which doesn't do us as much good. It's basically a global shipping issue this year," said Greg Greer, general manager of Springfield Fireworks.

Greer says people need to be careful when using fireworks.

"We just ask that they follow the instructions. Basically use their heads and don't misuse the fireworks. Most items come with basic instructions on how to use each product," Greer said.

Greer said that the most popular items they sell are the "artillery shells or the reloadable tubes or the 500-gram multi-shot cakes, which are the largest you can get in consumer fireworks."

If you're planning on enjoying fireworks, Mercy Health-St. Rita's has these tips:

—Consider safer alternatives such as glow sticks or confetti poppers.

—Don't allow children to handle fireworks — including sparklers. Sparklers can reach 2,000° F, which is hotter than a blowtorch.

—Observe your local and state laws.

—Leave the firework shows to the professionals.

—Have a designated sober adult light all legal fireworks.

—Never hold a lit firework in your hand or point/throw a lit firework at anyone.

—Keep children and other observers at a safe distance- behind a protective barrier.

—Keep a bucket of water close for the disposal of fireworks.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

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