CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 17, 2017) – AAA Carolinas urges those participating in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to practice safe driving habits. St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the country’s biggest times to party and celebrate. As a result, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking alcohol, making the holiday also one of the most dangerous.
“Don’t try your luck on St. Patrick’s Day by drinking and driving,” said Dave Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “Have a plan before you go out to celebrate, by designating a sober driver, taking a taxi or using ride services to make sure you reach your destination safely.”
During the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), nine people died in drunk driving crashes across North Carolina.
In South Carolina, 266 traffic deaths were reported during the 2010-2014 St. Patrick’s Day holidays. In 2014, 28 percent of all fatalities over a three-day period from 6 p.m. March 16 to 6 a.m. March 18 were alcohol related. That same year, nearly half of all crash fatalities between midnight and 6 a.m. March 18 involved drunk drivers.
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 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 and 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. Bar crawlers are urged to keep an eye out for cars, cross at intersections, and obey walk signals.
AAA Carolinas offers these tips for a safe celebration:
- Before heading out the door to a house party or favorite bar, 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.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.
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