ATLANTA (March 2008) – Let’s face it. If you drink and drive, not even your lucky four leaf clover can save you from a DUI this St. Patrick’s Day, but a (.08) could definitely cost you a pot of gold.. or your life. Yet many Americans will test their luck this weekend if they ride with an impaired driver or climb behind the wheel under the influence of too many green beers.
Lurking behind this all-American tradition when everyone merrily claims to be Irish for a day is a startling statistic that no one wants to share for even a moment: Last year on St. Patrick’s Day nearly half of all drivers involved in fatal crashes nationwide had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of (:08) or above. In Georgia, on average, a dozen people will die as a result of alcohol related crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
“Unfortunately, St. Patrick’s Day is no longer just about shamrocks and bagpipe bands,” says Director Bob Dallas of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “Just like on Cinco de Mayo and Halloween, about half the fatal crashes on our nation’s highways are now alcohol-related this holiday. Impaired adults behaving badly have turned the St. Patrick’s Day celebration into another deadly drinking and driving weekend on the Atlanta social calendar.”
It’s tragic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can already predict who will be the most likely DUI crash fatalities because the history of this holiday tells the tale. NHTSA reports show that young males, ages 21-to-34, are most likely to be involved in DUI car crashes. Why? Because they’re the one demographic most likely to drive while impaired AND among the least likely to wear safety belts. Incidentally, research also shows this same age group is the core crowd participating in major party events like St. Patrick’s Day.
“If our law enforcement and trauma centers really had three wishes in keeping with this holiday, we’d use them all keeping impaired drivers off the roads, protecting innocent motorists from drunk drivers, and taking back all the harm caused by DUI’s in the past,” said GOHS Director Dallas.
But making time to plan ahead before you party is guaranteed to accomplish far more than a pot of empty wishes afterward. Don’t push your luck. Here are three proven tips to help anyone keep the luck of the Irish working for them this St. Patrick’s Day.
1. Plan for a Designated Driver.
2. Don’t drink and drive.
3. Always buckle your safety belt. (It’s still your best protection against an unexpected encounter with an impaired driver.)
If you have a St. Patrick’s Day party, make these safety tips part of your guide to being a great host! (Remember, hosts can be held liable and prosecuted too if someone they over-serve ends up in an impaired driving crash.)
Make sure your guests have Designated sober Drivers.
Never serve alcohol to guests under 21-years-of-age.
Serve plenty of food.. And include soft drinks, juice, and water.
Stop serving alcohol before the party ends. Start serving coffee and dessert instead.
Take car keys from anyone who even thinks about driving impaired.
If you attend a St. Patrick’s Day party at your favorite pub or restaurant, have an exit strategy before you leave for home:
Designate your sober driver before the party begins and give them your car keys.
Volunteer to be the Designated Driver or offer to be one next time out.
Before you party, program local cab company numbers in your cell phone so a safe ride is just a call away.
Pace yourself. Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Eat enough food, take breaks, and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
Never let a friend out of sight if you think they’re about to drive impaired.
OVER THE LIMIT. UNDER ARREST
St. Patrick’s Day has become one of America’s biggest adult celebrations as friends gather to socialize at parties and pubs. But remember, Georgia enforces DUI laws for those who drive drunk. The message is simple. You drive impaired, you WILL go to jail. It’s Operation Zero-Tolerance.
According to GOHS Director Bob Dallas, one-of-every-three crash fatalities in Georgia all year long is alcohol-related.. and every one of those alcohol-related deaths could have been prevented.
FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS DRIVE DRUNK
“Be responsible about your own limits,” says GOHS Director Dallas. “If you plan to party this St. Patrick’s Day celebration, remember impaired driving is no accident – nor is it a victimless crime. Don’t let your St. Patrick’s Day weekend end in an arrest, a tragic crash or death. Georgia supports Mothers Against Drunk Driving in their reminder that the perfect end to a perfect St. Patrick’s Day parade is a safe and sober ride home.”