AAA: Don’t Rely on the ‘Luck of the Irish’ this St. Patrick’s Day

Thursday, 14 March 2024 07:05

AAA: Don’t Rely on the ‘Luck of the Irish’ this St. Patrick’s Day Featured

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Whether you’re Irish or just enjoy the festivities of St. Patrick’s Day, AAA Oklahoma is urging those partaking in alcohol to plan ahead before the celebrating begins. Booze and beer―including the green variety―can be a deadly combination when it comes to driving.

“This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday, and that means more parties throughout the weekend,” says Rylie Fletcher, public affairs manager, AAA Oklahoma. “If alcohol is part of your celebration, have a plan in place before the festivities begin―designate a sober driver, utilize a ride share service, take public transportation or spend the night where you are if at a house party – to ensure everyone gets home safely. Don’t be the reason you or someone else doesn’t make it home safely. This is not the time to rely on the ‘Luck of the Irish.’”

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest times on our nation’s roads:

  • Nationwide, during the 2017-2021 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 272 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes.
  • In Oklahoma, during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period in 2021, 34 alcohol-related crashes resulted in eight injuries and two deaths (Oklahoma Highway Safety Office).

While certain holidays see surges in impaired driving crashes, drunk driving is unfortunately a problem across the country all year long.

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 13,384 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers in 2021, an increase of more than 14% from the 11,718 fatalities in 2020.
  • Fatalities in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers continue to represent almost one-third (31%) of the total motor vehicle fatalities in the U.S.
  • According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office’s 2021 crash statistics, alcohol was involved in 2,869 crashes, including 641 resulting in injury and 175 ending in a fatality.
  • The 175 alcohol-related Oklahoma crash deaths in 2021 accounted for nearly 23% of all crash fatalities in the state.

The consequences of driving impaired are not worth the risk. Drunk driving can result in death, fines, jail time, the loss of your driver’s license and higher insurance rates. In addition, driving impaired can result in dozens of other unanticipated expenses, ranging from attorney fees and court costs to lost wages and vehicle towing and repairs.

To prevent senseless tragedies from occurring, AAA offers the following steps to have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day celebration:

  • If you’re venturing out to a pub or attending a St. Patrick’s Day party, plan ahead for a safe way home before you head out.
  • Decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive – you can’t do both. Driving buzzed is drunk driving. If you feel differently, you drive differently.
  • If you will drink, designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely or plan to call a taxi, ride share, sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
  • If you are the designated driver – DO NOT DRINK. Not one, not any.
  • If you see a driver on the road that you suspect is impaired, pull over to a safe spot and call 911, giving police a description of the vehicle.
  • And remember, if you see people who are about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get home safely. Don’t worry that they will be angry with you. Better to have a friend temporarily mad at you than lose them forever or have them cause someone else to be injured or killed.

If you are hosting a party where alcohol is being served, be a responsible host:

  • If you are hosting a get-together, include non-alcoholic beverage options. Food alone is not enough to keep guests sober. The internet is a great source for festive, non-alcoholic drink recipes for nearly any occasion, including St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Remember that it takes 40 minutes or longer for alcohol from a drink to be absorbed.
  • Be a responsible host. Take note of who is 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 numbers or apps for local rideshare and cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.

“Drivers are also advised to keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink and may jaywalk, wander from the sidewalk into the traffic lane and not obey traffic signals,” says Fletcher. “Walking while intoxicated can be deadly, as lack of attention and coordination puts impaired pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. If you will be walking, be mindful. You still need the ability to use good judgement. Keep an eye out for cars, only cross at intersections and obey walk signals. Too many pedestrians assume vehicles can see them and that all vehicles will obey stop signs and traffic signals. Unfortunately, that is not the case.”

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About AAA:
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 64 million members nationwide and more than 400,000 members in Oklahoma.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.
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