Hamilton, NJ (March 16, 2016) — For many, St. Patrick’s Day has become a day-long celebration with family and friends, often involving alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, this can also lead to a large volume of impaired drivers making the day a very dangerous one.
As St. Patrick's Day approaches, AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding drivers not to get behind the wheel if they've been drinking.
“Whether you will be gathering with friends at a house party or on a pub crawl at a downtown location, if alcohol is part of the festivities, make sure you designate a sober driver, call a taxi, Uber or take public transportation to ensure you get you home safely,” advises Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “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.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (March 16, 6:00 p.m., to March 18, 5:59 a.m.), more than a quarter (28 percent) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 were even worse: between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. In fact, from 2010 to 2014, almost three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) well above the .08 legal limit.
“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 Noble. “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.”
To prevent senseless tragedies from occurring, AAA Mid-Atlantic 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:
- Before heading out the door to a house party or favorite pub, 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, 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.
NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app is option that is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store. The app helps people who have been drinking get a safe ride home; it helps users call a taxi or a friend and identifies their location so they can be picked up.