As one of the country’s most popular holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has long celebrated the roots of 34.2 million Americans with Irish ancestry, and many more who just want to partake in the festivities. But, did you know that according to NHTSA, 252 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 2011-2015. More than a fourth of them were killed in drunk driving crashes that occurred in the early morning, post-party hours (midnight to 5:59 a.m.). This year, if you’ll be drinking alcohol, remember: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.
Tragically, March 17 has become one of the nation’s deadliest holidays. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), more than a quarter (28%) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 didn’t fare much better: between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. And keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink: Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. So whether you’ve indulged a little or a lot, remember, Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
A little good news? That number of fatalities over this holiday period has decreased from 2013. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, 32 lives were lost to drunk driving. In 2014, 28% of all traffic fatalities were drunk-driving related, which was a decrease from 2013 when more than 33% of all crash fatalities involved drunk driving. In 2015, 30 people were killed in drunk driving crashes across the nation over St Patrick’s Day holiday period.
“We are encouraged by the downward trend in fatalities,” said Dan McGee, Chief of the Montpelier Police Department. “However, we still want to encourage everyone to make a plan before heading out to the festivities. Understand the danger of drinking and driving. Buzzed or drunk, you should not drive. Designate a sober driver before you and your friends go out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Do not wait until you’ve already been drinking to find a sober driver. Remember: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. Even one drink is dangerous if you are behind the wheel of a car.”
If you plan to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day, follow these tips to stay safe:
● Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both.
● If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober. If you’ve been out drinking and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of causing a crash or getting arrested for a DUI.
● If you have been drinking, call a taxi or sober friend or family member. Also, try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which helps users call a taxi or a friend for a ride home and identify their location so they can be picked up.
● Help those around you be responsible, too. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. If someone you know is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel and help them find a sober ride home.
● If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, call the police. Your actions could help save a life.
Impaired driving causes tragedies all year round. According to NHTSA, 35,092 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015, and 10,265 (29%) of those fatalities occurred in drunk-driving-related crashes.
Remember this St. Patrick’s Day: Plan Before You Party! Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov