July 4th is considered the deadliest holiday celebrated in the U.S., due primarily to partygoers who drink and drive. Please read the following tips, which also include details about avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning, how to safely load and unload passengers and general defensive driving recommendations.

July 4th Safety

This year, July 4th falls on a Sunday, just a few days after Mayor de Blasio promised to “fully open the city” – so it should go without saying that people will be partying, potentially that entire weekend. Some of those people will make the poor choice to drive after drinking alcohol (and using other substances), rather than book a For-Hire Vehicle (FHV), so be EXTRA careful.

If you attend a holiday event, please be sure to get your rest before and afterwards. Driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Carbon Monoxide

During the hot summer months, many drivers try to keep the temperature in their vehicles at a comfortable level, both for themselves and their passengers. Idling brings with it some significant dangers, if you are not careful.

  • Vehicle motors emit carbon monoxide, which can be deadly, so DO NOT leave your motor running while in a garage.
  • Don’t leave the motor running and windows shut when waiting for a job.
  • Don’t use the air conditioner (or heater) in a parked car with the windows up.
  • Never leave the vents open when following closely behind another vehicle.
  • Do not operate a vehicle with a defective muffler or exhaust system.

Loading & Unloading

As tourism begins to return to the city and restrictions ease, there will be more calls for FHV rides that involve luggage. Please heed the following:

  • Always signal and pull as close to the curb as possible when responding to a street hail or arriving to load or unload a passenger, particularly if there is luggage involved.
  • Always scan the area behind you prior to using your trunk. Make sure there are no vehicles approaching in an unsafe manner.
  • Never stop in an area to pick up a passenger that leaves you at high risk of being rear-ended by traffic, especially if there is available curb space nearby.
  • Do not negotiate with passengers in the middle of the street.
  • Always try to pull into a passenger loading area without impeding traffic.
  • Do not delay traffic when a passenger enters your vehicle at a red light; be ready to proceed. If need be, pull over to the nearest curb space. Delaying traffic can lead to road rage incidents or rear-end collisions.
  • After loading your passenger, let them know their safety is your primary concern, and that when you arrive at their destination, you will open the door for them, and assist them, when it is safe.
  • Encourage your passenger to sit on the side of the vehicle that will be curbside upon arrival at their destination (only applicable if the vehicle is occupied by one passenger).
  • Always check your rear- and side-view mirrors prior to exiting your vehicle to assist a passenger. ALSO: Ask your client to wait a moment, upon arrival, so you can make sure it is safe for them to depart your vehicle, if they don’t want your assistance.
  • Always assist your passenger to the sidewalk before you retrieve luggage or other items from your trunk.
  • If you arrive for a ride or respond to a street hail, wait for another FHV loading at the curb to complete what they are doing so you can pull into their vacated spot.
  • Try to avoid loading or unloading passengers or trunk items while your vehicle is double parked.
  • Do not leave cash or other valuables openly exposed in the front seat, while you are assisting a passenger or attending to the trunk.

Dangers of Speeding

  • Always obey the posted speed limit. It’s best to become familiar with the speed limits and traffic laws of the areas you frequent most.
  • As you drive, regularly scan the entire area so you can observe any vehicles speeding or operating recklessly. Frequent and timely mirror checks help alert you to a speeding vehicle and let you signal and move out of the way.
  • Be prepared to take defensive and evasive actions should you observe a vehicle speeding in your immediate area or even in the distance.
  • The faster a vehicle is traveling, the greater the risk for a fatality or serious injury in an accident.
  • Speeding and unsafe lane changing not only cause accidents but road rage incidents.
  • Speeding violations can add points to your driver’s license.
  • Drivers with a history of excessive speeding violations may see their insurance rates increased or policy cancelled.
  • Drivers who speed on NYC streets with passengers in their vehicles often receive customer complaints and may be reported to the TLC.
  • Drivers delayed in traffic en route to a radio dispatched call should notify the passenger or base, and not speed to compensate for being late.

Safe Distances

  • It’s essential to maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, so you have time to stop or take evasive actions to avoid a potential accident.
  • Rear-end collisions are commonly caused by drivers tailgating and not allowing the proper distance between them and the vehicle in front of them. Use the “Three Second Rule.” Choose an object near the road ahead of you, like a sign or a telephone pole. As the vehicle ahead of you passes it, count slowly, “one thousand one, one thousand two, and one thousand three.” If you reach the object before you finish counting, you are too close to that vehicle. Make an immediate adjustment.
  • Be sure to increase your following distance on wet and slippery roads.


  • Traffic laws dictate who must yield the right-of-way in given situations. Drivers never get the right-of-way over pedestrians and you must always do everything possible to avoid striking a pedestrian or other car, regardless of the situation. Be extra cautious in areas where vehicles and pedestrians are likely to meet and there are no signs or signals to regulate traffic.
  • Your highest duty is to drive your vehicle carefully and prudently. Your speed and manner of driving must create a safe environment for yourself and others – including pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists.
Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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