Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and everyone is responsible for having a plan to get home safely after celebrating with family and friends. AAA urges those who take part in the revelry to have a plan before getting behind the wheel. Beer and booze don’t mix when it comes to driving – in fact, they can be a deadly combination.
“This year St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, and that means more parties throughout the weekend. Whether you will be celebrating at a house party or on a pub crawl, if alcohol is part of the festivities have a plan – designate a sober driver, utilize ride share such as with Lyft or Uber, take public transportation, or spend the night where you are – to ensure you get home safely,” said Kara Hitchens, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA. “Don’t be the reason someone – including yourself – doesn’t get home.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 11,654 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2020. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020 – one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 45 minutes in 2020.
St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest times on our nation’s roads. During the 2016-2020 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 287 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes. In 2020 alone, 37 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18).
According to Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) data, in Ohio during the 2022 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16, running through 6 a.m. on Sunday, March 20, there were 129 crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver, resulting in four fatalities.
The consequences of driving impaired are not worth the risks. Drunk driving can result in death, jail time, the loss of your driver’s license, and higher insurance rates, as well as dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, lost wages, and vehicle towing and repairs.
To prevent senseless tragedies from occurring, AAA offers the following steps to have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day celebration:
-If you’re venturing out to a pub or attending a St. Patrick’s Day party, plan ahead.
-Decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive – you can’t do both.
-If you will drink, designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely or plan to call a taxi, ride share, sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
-If you plan on driving, commit to staying sober.
-If you see a driver on the road that you suspect is impaired, pull over to a safe spot and call 911, giving police a description of the vehicle.
-And remember, if you see people who are about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
If you’re hosting a party where alcohol is being served, be a responsible host:
-Have food and non-alcoholic beverages available.
-Remember that it takes 40 minutes or longer for alcohol from a drink to be absorbed.
-Take note of who’s coming, who drinks, and who drives.
-Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers.
-Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before your guests start to leave for home.
-Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.
“Drivers are also advised to keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink and may jaywalk and not obey traffic signals,” said Hitchens. “Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention and coordination puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. Pub crawlers are urged to keep an eye out for cars, cross at intersections, and obey walk signals.”