RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Everyone knows that St. Patrick’s Day is a popular holiday in the U.S. that celebrates the roots of millions of Americans with Irish ancestry.
However, on March 17, the number of drunk divers on the road also makes St. Paddy’s Day one of the deadliest holidays, according to Virginia State Police (VSP). That’s why VSP will be increasing patrols Thursday to deter and detect those who choose to drive under the influence.
Over the past five years, 266 individuals lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes during St. Patrick’s Day nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports.
In 2014, between the hours of 6 p.m. March 16, to 5:59 a.m. March 18, more than a quarter, or 28 percent, of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. It wasn’t much better in the early hours of March 18, 2014, as nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers between midnight and 5:59 a.m.
“A buzzed or drunk driver puts everyone’s life at risk,” says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Impaired driving claimed 251 lives on Virginia’s highways in 2014. These deaths were 100 percent preventable. There is no excuse for it when there are so many alternatives to help you get home safely, especially with today’s technology.”
Did you know the NHTSA has a SaferRide app available for Android and Apple users? The app can help call a taxi or a friend for a ride home and will identify your location so you can be picked up.
Plan before you party. Here are some tips from Virginia State Police on how to stay safe:
- Ensure you have a designated sober driver before any drinking begins.
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend/family member, or request a transportation network company — which uses online-enabled platforms to connect paying passengers with drivers who use their own non-commercial, personal vehicles or opt to use public transportation, so you get home safely.
- Consider using your local community’s Sober Rides program – in Northern Virginia you can call 1-800-200-TAXI.
- Drinking and driving is a crime. If you witness a drunk driver on the road, dial #77 on a cell phone for the nearest Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Center or call 911.
- Remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride a motorcycle while impaired, take the keys and help them make arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
Drive to save lives on the road this St. Patrick’s Day and every day: Buckle up, avoid distractions, share the road, drive drug and alcohol free and obey speed limits.