While St. Patrick’s Day has long stood as a celebration of the 34.2 million Americans with Irish ancestry and for those who just want to partake in the festivities, March 17 is also one of the nation’s deadliest days of celebration.
The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) issued a reminder Wednesday stating, “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving,” warning potential party-goers of the sobering fact that from 2010 to 2014, almost three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had BACs above the .08 limit, with 266 drunk-driving fatalities making up the nationwide total, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To help lower deaths and injuries, the LBPD also announced that they will be deploying extra officers on overtime to target areas with high numbers of DUI collisions and arrests.
The DUI patrols, alongside routine nightly patrols, will be looking for typical signs of impairment, in both drivers and pedestrians who have had too much to drink. The release stated, “Whether you’ve indulged a little or a lot, law enforcement wants to remind everyone that drinking and driving is a crime —you put yourself at risk, as well as others. The consequences are often fatal. Let’s make 2016 safer.”
Provided by the LBPD, the below party-planning strategies will set you up for a safe night out, whether it’s on St. Patrick’s Day or any other day:
PARTY PREPARATION: Designate a sober reliable driver to get you home safely. Find the name of a taxi company (or two), and keep their numbers in your phone, or download the California Office of Traffic Safety DDVIP (Designated Driver VIP) mobile app that is now available for free download on iOS and Android devices. For more information, click here.
ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Before you take your first sip of green beer, leave your keys at home or give them to a friend. Ensure your designated driver has committed to a sober evening. If you’re the designated driver, do not drink. Your friends are relying on you, as are the people with whom you share the road. Enjoy non-alcoholic beverages and tweet your VIP (very important partygoer) status online using the hashtag #designateddriver.
EVERY DAY: First, commit to driving sober on St. Patrick’s Day and every day. Secondly, always keep the number of a taxi company in your phone or in your wallet so you have a backup plan if you find yourself in need of a sober driver. Lastly, if you’re impaired, don’t let pride get in the way of calling a sober friend or family member to get you home safely. Help spread the word about the dangers of drunk or buzzed driving and the resources available to keep the streets safe.
DRUG-IMPAIRED DRIVING: Recent statistics reveal 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol. Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects.
This enforcement campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The next special DUI campaign is set for Cinco de Mayo (May 5th).