While this year’s celebration may look a little different in your hometown, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in America date back to when the country was founded. However you celebrate, stay safe this St. Paddy’s Day by remembering one important piece of advice: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. This means that if you plan to drink any alcoholic beverage, it’s essential that you plan for a sober designated driver beforehand.
To help keep your community safe, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Region 7 consisting of Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas are spreading the message about the dangers of drunk driving. Even one drink can be one too many.
According to NHTSA, 10,142 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2019. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2015 to 2019 — one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 52 minutes in 2019. This is why NHTSA wants to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal but also a matter of life and death.
During the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day weekend alone (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 63% of crash fatalities involved a drunk driver. In fact, from 2015 to 2019, a total of 280 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day period. Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention to their surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
“We understand people are looking for a reason to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day, but we also want to impress upon everyone the importance of safe driving,” said Regional Administrator Susan DeCourcy. “If you’ve been drinking, make the right choice to find a sober driver to get you, and your friends, home safely. Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.”
NHTSA Region 7 urges drivers to designate a sober driver before heading out for any celebrations. If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving. Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously — your friends are relying on you.
- Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive.
- If available, use your community’s sober ride program.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
For more information about the Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving campaign, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/