More than 700 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving a drunk driver during the St. Patrick's Day holiday from 2006 to 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Louisiana, alcohol was a factor in 41 percent of all crash deaths in 2011, the most recent year for which complete data is available.
"St. Patrick's Day falls on a weekend this year, which could prompt more people to join in the celebrations," said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. "It's important for party-goers to make arrangements ahead of time for a non-drinking, designated driver or for other means of safe transportation."
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission provides annual grants to local law enforcement agencies and State Police to increase DWI patrols and sobriety checkpoints during holiday periods. Alcohol-involved crashes often increase over holidays and weekends.
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission and NHTSA recommend the following steps for a safe St. Patrick's Day:
- Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;
- If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home;
- Use your community's sober rides program;
- If you spot a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement agency;
- If you know other people who are about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help make other arrangements to get them home safely.