Luck of the Irish: Driving Safety Tips for St. Patrick’s Day

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.

irish flag


* St. Patrick’s Day facts courtesy of; ** Population data courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau; Parade photo courtesy of The Benicia Herald