What once was a 17th-century Christian feast day to celebrate the death of Saint Patrick has now evolved into an American holiday that is associated with copious amounts of alcohol. But beneath all of the celebration and fun lies a real danger—drunk driving.
St. Patrick’s Day continually experiences a significant rise in drunk driving accidents every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 252 drunk driving fatalities occurred on St. Paddy’s Day between 2011 and 2015. Furthermore, 75 percent of fatal drunk driving accidents on March 17 involved a driver who was two times over the legal limit.
Due to these frightening statistics, law enforcement plans to be constantly patrolling the streets and setting up checkpoints to deter drunk driving. Additionally, St. Paddy’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, which means more people will likely participate in the day’s festivities—which means more police on the road.
The following are several tips to keep you and your family safe this St. Patrick’s Day:
- Get a designated driver – If you plan on drinking, it is wise to choose a trustworthy designated driver to pick you up. Ensure that he or she is reliable, carries a valid driver’s license, knows your address, and has emergency contact information.
- Rely on alternative modes of transportation – In the event your designated driver breaks their promise and joins the festivities, you can still take advantage of public transportation such as a bus or train. If public transportation is not available, you can always request a ride from Uber or Lyft, but be mindful of the surcharges that day.
- Keep your keys hidden – You can’t drive if you do not have your keys. If you believe that you will be tempted to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, hand over your keys to the party host or a reliable friend. Make sure that this person will keep your keys away from you until you are sober and home safely.
- Determine where the checkpoints are – Sobriety checkpoints are typically announced in advance, so be proactive and find out where they are in order to avoid taking those routes.
- Avoid driving after dark – Fatal drunk driving accidents are three times more likely to happen at night, so unless you really need to be somewhere, it is imperative to stay off the road as soon as the sun sets. Not only are other motorists more likely to be intoxicated the later it gets in the day, but the lack of visibility in the evening can make drunk drivers more dangerous to themselves and others on the road.
- Stay home – Instead of risking a DUI or getting involved in a car accident, avoid driving altogether by staying at home. If you plan on having a party at your place, make sure you offer a place to stay or alternative means of transportation to those who are too drunk to drive.