KANSAS CITY, MO--(Marketwired - Mar 13, 2015) -  In 2013, 31 people lost their lives in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick's Day holiday period*. Unfortunately, March 17, with its dramatic spike in drunk-driving fatalities, has become a deadly day in the United States. From 2009 to 2013, 276 people died over St. Patrick's Day weekend in drunk driving crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the St. Patrick's Day weekend in 2013, forty percent of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. St. Patrick's Day itself -- was especially bad with nearly half of the crash fatalities after midnight involving drunk drivers. And we're not just talking about a little bit too much to drink; from 2009 to 2013, almost three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities on St. Patrick's Day involved drivers who were twice the legal limit. So whether you're buzzed or drunk on St. Patrick's Day, it doesn't matter. NHTSA wants to remind everyone that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving -- drive sober.

Designate a Sober Driver

Susan DeCourcy, Regional Administrator, NHTSA Region 7 offered this advice to partygoers: "Get ahead of the decision this year. If you know you're going to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with alcohol, then figure out a plan ahead of time for how you'll get home. Don't wait until you're too buzzed to decide, and don't let your friends drive drunk." Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, so if you have anything to drink, count on a sober friend, taxi, or public transportation to drive you home safely.

The bottom line is this: Too many Americans fail to designate sober drivers. According to NHTSA, in 2013 on average one person was killed every 52 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States. That totaled 10,076 drunk-driving fatalities that year.

Let's make 2015 different. Use this party-planning checklist to stay safe this St. Patrick's Day. 

  • NOW: Even if you don't have plans yet, plan to drive sober or designate someone else to. Save the number of a taxi company in your phone so you always have a backup plan.
  • WHEN YOU MAKE PLANS: A sober driver is an essential part of any party plan. Once you know where you'll celebrate, decide whether you're drinking or driving. You can only choose one.
  • ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY: Before you take your first sip of green beer, leave your keys at home or give them to a friend. If you're the designated driver, don't drink. Enjoy non-alcoholic beverages and brag about your VIP (very important partygoer) status online using the hashtag #designateddriver. Only drive sober or ride with a sober driver.
  • EVERY DAY: If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely. If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

Drunk driving has fatal consequences. If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police immediately. You could save a life.

*St. Patrick's Day Holiday Period: 6:00 pm March 17 to 5:59 am March 18

Sample Tweets for your use

Do you have an extra $10k to pay for a DUI? That's how much the average DUI costs. Still think a cab sounds expensive? #designateddriver #StPatricksDay

Don't wait until you're buzzed to make a life-changing decision. Choose before you booze, because #BuzzedDriving is #DrunkDriving

For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov

Contact Information:

Ginny Vineyard