For many, celebratory drinks and St. Patrick’s Day go together like corned beef and cabbage. To help keep roadways safe throughout the State this St. Patrick’s Day, Arkansas law enforcement officers are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. If your plans for the holiday include alcohol, make sure you plan for a sober driver – Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
“Arkansans will join people from across the globe in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Friday, March 17. While St. Patrick’s Day has cultural and religious significance to many, it is also associated with widespread binge drinking,” said Colonel Mike Hagar, Director of the Arkansas State Police, and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “If you’ve been drinking, make the smart choice to plan for a sober driver to get you and your friends home safely. Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
According to NHTSA, 11,654 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2020. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020 — one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 45 minutes in 2020. This is why Arkansas law enforcement is working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, but also a matter of life and death. As you head out to the festivities, help us spread the word: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest times on our nation’s roads. During the 2016-2020 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 287 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes. In 2020 alone, 37 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18). Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have been drinking. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly; lack of attention to surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of injury or worse.
If you’re the designated driver, make sure you keep that promise of safety to yourself and your passengers. It can be a long night, but your passengers are counting on you, not to mention the other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the streets that are entitled to a safe roadway. Take the role of designated driver seriously— you are making a difference.
Celebrate with a Plan
Before heading out, it’s vital to plan ahead. Be honest with yourself: You know whether you’ll be drinking or not. Arkansas law enforcement recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
- It’s never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely. Plan a safe way home before you leave.
- If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi, ride-share service or a designated driver to drive you home.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
- If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
- Always buckle up. Your seat belt is your best defense against a drunk driver.
- Always remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136, and go to https://www.tzdarkansas.org/ to learn about Arkansas’ Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities.