With fun parades, a large Irish community and no shortage of pubs in which to celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day is a huge event in Buffalo and Western New York. But when excessive alcohol becomes part of the equation, St. Patrick’s Day can quickly turn tragic.
As one of the country’s most popular holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has long celebrated the roots of 34.2 million Americans with Irish ancestry, and many more who just want to partake in the festivities. However, did you know that in 2014 there were 18 people killed in drunk-driving crashes on St. Paddy’s Day? This year, if you’ll be drinking alcohol, remember: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving!
“Tragically, March 17 has become one of the nation’s deadliest holidays,” said Monica Farrar, program director of The Resource Training Center. Located in the Harlem Road Community Center at 4255 Harlem Road, Amherst, The Resource Training Center offers a wide variety of services, including the New York State Impaired Driving Program for individuals convicted of an alcohol- or drug-related driving violation, and Alive at 25, a unique program that teaches young drivers to change how they approach driving through role playing, workbook exercises, interactive media segments and more.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period, 28 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 didn’t fare much better; between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. In fact, from 2010 to 2014, almost three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had BACs well above the .08 limit, with 266 drunk-driving fatalities total.
And keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink, too! Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
Want a little good news? That number of fatalities over the holiday period has decreased from 2013. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, 32 lives were lost to drunk driving.
“We are greatly encouraged by the downward trend in fatalities,” said Farrar. “However, we still want to encourage everyone to make a plan before heading out to the festivities. Understand the danger of drinking and driving. Buzzed or drunk, you should not drive. Designate a sober driver before you and your friends go out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Do not wait until you’ve already been drinking to find a sober driver. Remember that even one drink is dangerous if you are behind the wheel of a car.
“While we want everyone to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, please consider doing so without the assistance of alcohol. To drink and drive is a crime — you put yourself at risk, as well as others. The consequences can be fatal. If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police when it is safe to do so. You could save a life.”
For more information on The Resource Training Center, please call 983-2258, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wnyresourcetraining.org. You can also follow The Resource Training Center on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Resource-Training-Center/112019195650348 or Twitter (@monica_farrar).