St. Patrick’s Day Safety: Encouraging Moderation and Safe Driving
St. Patrick’s Day comes around at the perfect time; most people have recovered from the string of holidays in the last months of the previous year and are ready to get out of the house to (hopefully) enjoy some warmer weather. Parades and pub patios lend themselves well to this cultural celebration.
Of course, a very specific activity is also associated with St. Patrick’s Day: drinking alcohol. Whether you indulge a bit yourself or find the practice distasteful, no one can deny how prevalent drinking is on this holiday. According to the National Retail Federation, 37 million Americans planned to celebrate in restaurants or bars in 2015. Numbers from WalletHub report St. Patrick’s Day to be the fourth most popular drinking holiday in the United States with 13 million pints of Guinness consumed by revelers.
Unfortunately, along with that celebrating comes this sobering reality: On St. Patrick’s Day, a life is claimed in a drunk driving accident every 46 minutes. Further, 75 percent of these crashes involve a driver whose blood-alcohol level is twice the legal limit. When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells us that 276 people died in Saint Patrick’s Day alcohol-related auto accidents over just five years, we should think seriously about this problem—and how each of us can work to remedy it.
The Dangers of Drunk Driving
No matter what the time of year, driving under the influence of alcohol is a bad idea. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence explains what happens in the human body when alcohol is present:
As a depressant, alcohol slows the function of the brain and central nervous system. This means drivers under the influence cannot process information or move their bodies as quickly as they might when sober. Because things happen fast on the road, this increases the risk for not only a few missed turns but actually causing an accident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the individuals most at risk for being involved in alcohol-related crashes are those in younger generations (especially people between 21 and 24 years old), motorcyclists, and drivers with prior driving-while-impaired (DWI) convictions. Sadly, the resulting fatalities of such crashes included 200 children (infants to 14 year olds) in 2013 alone.
Tips for Staying Safe
Obviously, driving sober is the primary precaution against alcohol-related accidents and fatalities. However, Saint Patrick’s Day can be dangerous even if you’re not celebrating and are simply out driving. The CDC also offers some tips for staying safe on March 17 (and every other day of the year):
- Before imbibing, ensure that someone in the party is a designated driver.
- If you are hosting a party, remind guests of this, provide non-alcoholic drinks, and try to make certain that a drunk guest doesn’t leave and get behind the wheel.
- Don’t be afraid to take the keys from impaired people attempting to drive.
- Consider alternatives to driving yourself or riding with an impaired driver. Calling someone (be it a friend, taxi, or Uber) might be less convenient, but a slight inconvenience is far preferable to a car crash and its often lethal ramifications.
If you are a driver hoping to avoid all things St. Patrick’s Day related, including auto accidents, pay attention to this general data from the Department of Transportation: In 2013, alcohol-related fatal crashes were four times more likely to happen at night than during the day, and weekends see twice as many crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers than do weekdays. The point is that you are probably safer on the road if it’s 2:00 PM on a Monday St. Patrick’s Day than if it’s 2:00 AM on a Saturday St. Patrick’s Day.
Hossley & Embry: Texas Personal Injury Lawyers
St. Patrick’s Day is a fun and wonderful holiday, and we hope you enjoy that pint of Guinness if that’s how you like to celebrate. As always, however, the most important thing to keep in mind is the safety of everyone on the road—whether they choose to drink alcohol or not. If you or someone you love becomes a victim in an alcohol-related crash this year, call us immediately at (866) 522-9265. We can help you understand the situation and determine the best course of action while offering compassion and effective representation.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, November 24). Impaired driving: Get the facts. CDC. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html
Kiernan, J. S. (2016) St. Patrick’s Day by the numbers. WalletHub. Retrieved from https://wallethub.com/blog/st-patricks-day-statistics/10960/
National Council on Alcoholism and Dependence, Inc. (2015, June 26). Driving while impaired — alcohol and drugs. NCADD. Retrieved from https://ncadd.org/about-addiction/driving-while-impaired-alcohol-and-drugs
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2016). St. Patrick’s Day – March 17, 2016 drunk driving prevention / enforcement campaign materials. Traffic Safety Marketing.Retrieved from http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/CAMPAIGNS/Drunk+Driving/Drive+Sober+or+Get+Pulled+Over/Saint+Patrick’s+Day
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2014, December) Traffic safety facts.NHTSA. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812102.pdf
Reynolds, T. (2015, March 4). Consumers ready to let go of winter with traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. National Retail Federation. Retrieved from https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/consumers-ready-let-go-of-winter-traditional-st-patricks-day-celebrations