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On St. Patrick’s Day, don’t rely on luck behind the wheel

March 16, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

With 75% of drivers in fatal St. Patrick’s Day car crashes registering 2 times over legal limit, safety is your top priority this St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day Drunk Driving
If you’re planning on drinking on St. Patrick’s Day, designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely from the party or bar.

Like New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day is an annual celebration. And like New Year’s Eve, it’s a celebration that’s strongly associated with alcohol. This year it falls on a Friday, which means the wearing of the green and the downing of the ale will likely run into Saturday. This makes for a weekend that we can reasonably expect will double the danger of being involved in a car crash with someone who is drinking-and-driving.

That’s why preparation and knowing ahead of time what you need to do to avoid drunk driving and car accidents is so crucial.

Don’t be among this St. Patrick’s Day statistics for drunk driving or car crash fatalities

Consider what happened throughout Michigan last year. During the Michigan State Police’s March 2016 enforcement effort, 621 drunk drivers were arrested, in addition to 844 seat belt citations being issued. Meanwhile, two off-duty Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies — who were armed and allegedly drunk before noon — were arrested on St. Patrick’s Day after a car crash involving a 70-year-old woman.

The MSP also reports that across the U.S., during post-party hours between midnight and 5:59 a.m. March 18, 2014 (the latest date available), nearly half of crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. In 2014 alone, 29 people — 28% of all car crash fatalities — across the country were killed in drunk driving wrecks  over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.

Further, according to data compiled by WalletHub, 75% of American drivers involved in a fatal crash during St. Patrick’s Day festivities are more than two times over the legal limit, and every 72 minutes, alcohol-related crashes claim a life.

Make a plan for safely getting home before diving into green beer and St. Patrick’s Day merriment

To help prevent drunk driving-related car accidents, arrests and fatalities, the MSP has provided the following tips for St. Patrick’s Day safety:

  • If you’re planning on drinking, designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely from the party or bar.
  • If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober.
  • If you see someone driving drunk, call 911 when it’s safe to do so and give a description of the vehicle to law enforcement. With one-third of all U.S. crash fatalities involving drunk drivers, it is your business — as getting drunk drivers off the roads saves lives.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive drunk or ride with someone who is impaired, help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely. If a friend is drunk and wants to drive, take the keys away. Don’t worry about offending him or her —they’ll thank you later.
  • Walking home from the bar after a St. Patrick’s night out? That can be dangerous, too. In 2014, 35% of pedestrians killed in crashes had BACs of 0.08 or higher. Get a sober friend to walk home with you.

Follow these recommendations and you’ll have a happy — and much safer — St. Patty’s Day.

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