LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas law enforcement officers are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to raise awareness about the dangers of drunken driving on St. Patrick's Day.
"Arkansans will join people from across the globe in celebrating St. Patrick's Day on Friday, March 17. While St. Patrick's Day has cultural and religious significance to many, it is also associated with widespread binge drinking," said Col. Mike Hagar, director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor's highway safety representative.
"If you've been drinking, make the smart choice to plan for a sober driver to get you and your friends home safely. Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," Hagar said in a news release.
More than 11,000 people were killed in drunken-driving crashes in 2020, according to NHTSA. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020.
St. Patrick's Day is one of the deadliest times on our nation's roads. During the 2016-2020 St. Patrick's Day holiday period, 287 lives were lost in drunken-driving crashes. In 2020 alone, 37 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick's Day holiday period.
Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have been drinking. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly. Lack of attention to surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of injury or worse.
Arkansas law enforcement recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
Even if you've had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely. Plan a safe way home before you leave.
If you've been drinking, call a taxi, ride-share service or a designated driver to drive you home.
If you see an impaired driver on the road, call 911.
If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
Always buckle up. Your seat belt is your best defense against a drunken driver.
For more information on impaired driving, visit nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at 501-618-8136. Go to tzdarkansas.org to learn about Arkansas' Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities.