The boisterous celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day are expected to return this year. Regardless to what extent the celebrations may trend toward in local communities, drivers who may participate are encouraged to make plans for a safe return home.
The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office is offering advice to the celebratory crowd, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
A sober driver is one who hasn’t consumed any alcohol, and to help keep local communities safe, Arkansas law enforcement officers are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving. Even one drink can be one too many.
According to NHTSA officials, 10,142 people were killed in drunk driving related crashes during 2019, accounting for nearly one-third of traffic crash fatalities. On average, more than 10,000 people died annually between 2015 through 2019 in motor vehicle crashes involving a driver who was drunk. That’s one person killed in drunk driving crashes every 52 minutes.
“Everyone has their own particular reason to celebrate at one time or another, but when they do, we want Arkansans to realize the importance of safe driving,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “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: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
During the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day period (March 16th, 6 PM to March 18th, 5:59 AM), almost half (46%) of crash fatalities involved a drunk driver. Additionally, 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.
If you’re the designated driver, make sure you don’t drink so you can keep that promise of safety to yourself and your passengers. It can be a long night, but people are counting on you, not to mention the other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the streets. Take the role of designated driver seriously — people are relying on you.
Before heading out for a celebration, it’s vital to plan before anyone drives. Be honest with yourself; acknowledge whether you’ll be drinking or not. Don’t depend on the luck of the Irish, follow these ideas to ensure you and your fellow partygoers live another day.
• It’s never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely. Plan a safe way home before you leave.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
• Do you have a friend who has been drinking and is about to drive? Take away their keys, then make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
• Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.
For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136, and go to www.TZDArkansas.org to learn about Arkansas’ Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities.