LINCOLN — Green beer and shiny pots of gold are hallmarks of St. Patrick’s Day in Nebraska and throughout the United States. The Nebraska Department of Transportation wants you to keep your friends and family safe this St. Paddy’s Day by starting the conversation, “Who’s Driving Home?” long before the celebration start.
St. Patrick’s Day is Tuesday, March 17th with celebrations expected during the weekends surrounding that date. If you plan to drink any alcoholic beverage, even a watered-down green beer, it’s essential that you plan for a designated driver. In 2018 alone, 73 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over St. Patrick’s Day. For this reason, the Nebraska Department of Transportation – Highway Safety Office (NDOT-HSO) is teaming up with MADD Nebraska, state and local law enforcement to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving.
“We want our community to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, and we expect drivers to take responsibility for their actions,” said Andrea Frazier, Program Manager for MADD Nebraska. “If you’ve been drinking, make the right choice to find a sober driver to get you, and your friends, home safely. Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you feel a buzz, you are in no shape to drive.”
In 2018, between midnight and 6 a.m. over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, more than three out of five (62%) crash fatalities involved a drunk driver. In fact, from 2014 to 2018, 249 lives were lost due to drunk-driving crashes as a result of excessive St. Patrick’s celebrations. Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention to their surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
“Drunk drivers are a danger on Nebraska’s roads. That is why we are encouraging everyone to start the conversation now and ask the question, Who’s Driving Home?” said Mark Segerstrom, Administrator of the NDOT-HSO. “People need to plan ahead for a fun night out knowing they will return home safely. Don’t let St. Patrick’s Day become an anniversary of a tragic night.”
Drinking and driving should never be combined. It’s essential to discuss who’s driving home in advance, if the holiday celebration includes alcohol. The alternative could change your life, not to mention the lives of your passengers, of pedestrians, or of other drivers and passengers nearby.