Safety Tips for the Upcoming Festive Holiday Weekend

Hamilton, NJ, May 2, 2014 – You might not read a word in Spanish or speak the language at all, but it is common knowledge that Cinco de Mayo is fun in any language, especially if you take precautions to avoid the hazards of drinking and driving.  It is a big red-letter day and it is becoming a popular night out on the town for many at restaurants, pubs and bars across the region.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in communities nationwide with delicious food, music and family festivals. But significant alcohol consumption during the festivities is a growing concern to many, including participants and highway safety advocates.  Given the growing number of celebrations and celebrants out and about on Cinco de Mayo, AAA Mid-Atlantic is strongly encouraging celebrants to arrange a safe ride home before participating in any festivities

During 2012, almost half of all crash deaths on Cinco de Mayo involved a drunk driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (calculated as 6 p.m. May 4 to 5:59 a.m. May 6). Further, “From 2011 to 2012, the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes on Cinco de Mayo more than doubled,” says NHTSA.

“The nationwide trend of drunk driving crashes doubling from 2011 to 2012 during this festive time is an indication that people are not heeding the call to plan ahead for a safe ride home,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drunk driving deaths are 100% preventable. If you see a family member or friend about to get behind the wheel impaired, take their keys and arrange a safe trip home for them.”

In 2012, 198 people lost their lives in crashes around Cinco de Mayo, and almost half of those fatalities (45%) were in drunk-driving crashes. That means that the number of fatalities could have been cut in half if people had just designated sober drivers, according to NHTSA.

AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends the following tips to have a safe and happy Cinco de Mayo:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver for your group and leave your car keys at home.
  • If you’ve been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.
  • AAA encourages all to Take The Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.
  • If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local police.

AAA works year round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and resulting injuries, according to Noble.

PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.  Once there, AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free. 

Cinco de Mayo marks the historic triumph of the Mexican army over the French army in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza. Within Mexico, the holiday is mainly celebrated in Puebla where the battle occurred, but in the United States, it has become a wider celebration of Latino cultural heritage in numerous cities.