Saint Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated and recognized as a holiday across the United States. American-made St. Patrick’s Day traditions include house parties, corned beef and cabbage, and beer. Lots of beer. Each year, on March 17, Americans are all about the color green from clothes to McDonald’s beloved Shamrock shake. The holiday, however, brings forth higher than average driving under influence — aka DUI — rates.
As the third most popular drinking day in the nation, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest for driving. Considering over half the population celebrates the holiday and the average American consumes 4.2 alcoholic drinks on St. Patrick’s Day, the National Highway Travel Safety Administration states people have a much higher chance of encountering someone driving under the influence of alcohol on March 17th. Consequently, drunk drivers present a higher risk of pedestrian fatality.
Accidents as a result of driving under influence are 100% completely avoidable, and those who plan on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day should have a transportation safety plan for returning home safely regardless of how much they drink. Pedestrians, as well, should also implement a safety plan if they plan on walking around during the holiday. Below are some tips regarding safe driving and pedestrian safety.
Establish a game plan BEFORE celebrating St. Patty’s Day
Ensure everyone within your network is on the same page when it comes to your plans for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Consider choosing someone to be the designated driver so no one drinks and drives, which is never a good idea. Ideally, the designated driver completely abstains from alcohol throughout the day in order to drive everyone else to and from the celebrations safely, unimpaired. If there is no one in the group who volunteers to be designated driver, then it is suggested to prearrange other transportation options, whether that is renting a hotel room nearby or having the phone number of family members on-hand. Nowadays, rideshare programs like Uber offer safe driving alternatives.
Eat food often while drinking
Though it sounds pretty obvious, don’t forget to eat often. Many forget to eat a meal when attending house parties or drinking, but it’s rather important to have a full belly. Let’s be honest: chugging green beer on an empty stomach just calls for a faster rise in blood alcohol content and results in a terribly regrettable hangover. Solid foods also help soak up the alcohol in our system, therein, slowing down the effects of alcohol over time. Besides eating, don’t forget to drink water in between beers.
A crucial aspect of pedestrian safety is awareness. In terms of drinking, be aware of your surroundings, which include never learning your drink unattended and never accepting a previously opened drink. In short, always keep your drink in your hand with you (even when you go to the bathroom) and always open your own drink. If you misplace your drink or suspect there is something in your drink, grab a new one.
Check-in on your friends
It’s advisable to always attend large gatherings like house parties with a friend or two. Check on your friends regularly throughout the night by holding each other accountable for their decisions and ensuring they don’t exceed their limits. When you check in on your peers, you can prevent drunk driving and help them make safe, smart choices such as obtaining their car keys to prevent alcohol impaired driving or assisting them with finding their way home, or locating the closest hotel.
Drive and walk carefully
If you are the designated driver, drive carefully because others on the road may be driving while impaired and may have a delayed reaction time. Trust yourself and your instincts, and be extra safe. As the designated driver, ensure all passengers — including yourself — are fully buckled while on the road. If you are driving through various crosswalks, be wary of pedestrians and jaywalkers.
Sure, it’s fun to wear green and get in the festive spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also imperative to take extra precautions to ensure pedestrian safety and make smart decisions. Drunk driving and DUI can be easily prevented if everyone plans ahead and maintains awareness of occurrences around them.