St. Patty’s Safety: Don’t Test Your Luck

by Gwen Newell

While this year’s festivities may look a lot different than previous years, there will still be gatherings and parties as COVID-19 restrictions have loosened and people find ways to celebrate amid the pandemic. Because of this, it is important to remind those participating in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to practice safe driving habits, as this holiday has become one of the country’s biggest times to party and celebrate.

As a result, these celebrations make up one of the biggest drinking nights of the year – and this, unfortunately, means more drunk drivers on the roads. Statistics show that drunk driving deaths during this holiday are generally 8% higher than the national daily rate. 51% of all nighttime fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day were due to drunk driving and drunk driving fatalities on this holiday are seven times more likely to take place during the night than daytime.

The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program and the Department of Transportation have launched their annual St. Patrick’s Day Booze It & Lose It campaign, warning motorists to not drink and drive. There will be stepped-up patrols and checkpoints during the holiday to remove drunk drivers from the roads.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol said troopers will also be out in full force conducting road checks and ensuring those impaired stay away from behind the wheel.

Motorists are also advised to keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink and may jaywalk or not obey traffic signals. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as coordination and lack of attention puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

AAA offers these tips for a safe celebration:

  • Before heading out, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive – you can’t do both.
  • If you plan on driving, commit to staying sober.
  • If you see a driver on the road who you suspect is impaired, pull over to a safe spot and call 911, giving police a description of the vehicle.
  • 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 one 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. Take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.

Don’t test your luck on St. Patrick’s Day by drinking and driving!

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