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Don't press your luck and designate a sober driver

More than one-third of traffic fatalities on St. Patrick's Day are alcohol-related

3/12/2014, 10:48 a.m.
Last year, 267 souls were lost in Virginia because someone made the decision to drive while intoxicated, according to crash ...

Saint Patrick’s Day is well known as a day to celebrate by eating and drinking with friends and family, however AAA Mid-Atlantic warns it is also one of the deadliest days on the roadways as 34 percent of motor vehicle fatalities on this day were connected to drunk driving, according to 2011 data provided by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“This weekend signifies for many a long weekend of festival celebrations and alcohol consumption that may lead motorists down a path of destruction if not planned properly,” advised Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “AAA is advising motorists not to press their luck, but to plan ahead and designate a trusted and sober driver for the weekend.”

Last year, 267 souls were lost in Virginia because someone made the decision to drive while intoxicated, according to crash data provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Likewise, Saint Patrick’s Weekend last year (Friday, March 15, 2013 through Sunday, March 17, 2013) resulted in 95 alcohol-related vehicle crashes in Virginia, while 44 of those resulted in injuries and sadly, three people perished on Virginia’s roadways.

MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, joins AAA’s voice in the effort to keep our highways and byways free of alcohol related crashes, injuries and death.

“MADD wants people to enjoy the holiday, but more importantly, we want everyone to get home safe,” said Christopher R. Konschak, Virginia Manager of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “So before dressing in green and attending an Irish-themed party or parade, we want people to make plans for a safe and sober way home,” advised Konschak.

NHTSA, additionally reports two of five people killed nationwide in crashes involved a drunk driver during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday from 2006 to 2010. As of 2011, every 53 minutes a person is killed in a drunk-driving crash in the United States.

“All alcohol-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities are preventable,” added Meade. These are not statistics, they are people that would still be here today if someone did not choose to drink and drive. Driving while intoxicated is a mistake that can cost you, your friends, family and other motorists their precious lives. We plead with everyone to plan ahead, drive sober or designate a sober driver.”

To help avoid the dangers associated with drinking and driving, AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following tips:

If you’re venturing out to an Irish pub or attending a St. Patrick’s Day party, plan ahead.

· If you plan to drive, don’t drink.

· If you plan to drink, pre-select your designated driver before the party begins and give that person your car keys.

· If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to come get you; or stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.

· Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.

If you’re hosting the 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 a 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

· Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.