Luck of the Irish: Driving Safety Tips for St. Patrick’s Day
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Every year the middle of March brings a little bit of mayhem into everything – the NCAA tournament, spring fever, even the return of the Shamrock Shake®. But the one March event I’m particularly mad for is St. Patrick’s Day.
For me, it serves as an annual reminder of my family’s origins on the Emerald Isle. For most Americans, it’s a celebration of all things green, often including parades, parties and the ubiquitous phrase, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” slapped on all manner of seasonal novelty items.
In addition to–and often as a result of–the festivities, the reality is that drunk driving is a major concern on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and state and local law enforcement agencies take this very seriously. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, there were 103 crash fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day, and of those, 37 percent involved alcohol-impaired drivers and/or motorcyclists. To keep the roads safe, many prevention and enforcement programs will be employed across the country, including roving police patrols and alcohol checkpoints at various spots to catch drunk-driving offenders. NHTSA recommends some easy steps to ensure a safe and festive holiday. They include:
- Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
- Designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
- Use your community’s sober ride program.
- If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other travel arrangements.
- St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the traditional religious feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
- March 17 is the date of St. Patrick’s death in the mid-fifth century.
- The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but the United States on March 17, 1737, in Boston.
- More than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States. New York City and Boston host the largest.
- There are roughly 35 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry, more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.
- There are approximately 144,588 current U.S. residents who were born in Ireland**.
- Corned beef and cabbage is served up as the St. Patrick’s Day dish in the United States, but isn’t a traditional meal in Ireland. In the late 19th century, instead of the traditional Irish meal of boiled bacon and potatoes, Irish immigrants substituted corned beef and cabbage because of the low cost.
- You may hear some phrases in Gaelic/Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. The most common: Erin go braugh = Ireland forever; slainte = good health/cheers.
* Fun facts courtesy of History.com
** Population data courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau
Parade photo courtesy of The Benicia Herald
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