With St. Patrick’s Day falling on the same day as the NCAA basketball tournament’s “Selection Sunday”, no one will have trouble finding a reason to party this weekend. AAA is warning party-goers and sports fans to have a game plan for getting home if drinking alcohol is involved.
Since both days typically align with drinking, it could be an especially dangerous weekend on Oklahoma roads. “Anyone who plans to drink this weekend should also plan for a designated driver, ride share like Lyft or Uber or some other safe option that will keep you, your friends and everyone else from undue risk,” Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma spokesperson, said. “The luck of the Irish isn’t enough to get you home safe.”
During the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day holiday, 528 crashes occurred in the state, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Ten people died. Forty-seven of the crashes were alcohol and/or drug-related.
Drinking also puts pedestrians at risk. “Walking near or on streets while intoxicated can also be deadly,” Gamble warns. “Without realizing it, your senses are dulled, decision-making isn’t sharp and decreased coordination can put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. Keep an eye out for cars, cross at intersections, and obey walk signals.”
AAA offers the following steps to have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day and Selection Sunday celebration:
Before heading out the door to a house party or favorite pub, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive – you can’t do both.
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 plan on driving, commit to staying sober.
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 to where they are going safely.
If you’re hosting a party, here are tips for being a responsible host:
Offer non-alcoholic beverages as an option. Festive mocktail recipes are available at aaa.com/mocktails
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.
If necessary, take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.