St. Patrick's Day is one of the most popular holidays for drinking. According to WalletHub, the average person celebrating St. Patrick's Days has about 4.2 drinks — enough to cause impairment. Of course, this becomes a problem when mixed with driving.
From 2014-2018, nearly 250 people died in traffic collisions in the U.S. on St. Patrick's Day, according to federal statistics. More than 70 occurred in 2018. Most fatal crashes occur in the early morning hours on March 18 after the bars close and most people return home.
Police across the state will be out looking for drunk drivers. Many drunk drivers will evade detection, however.
How serious is drunk driving?
Each year across the United States, more than 10,000 people die in alcohol-related crashes, according to the NHTSA. Many of these traffic fatalities involve drivers with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels over the legal limit, which is 0.08 percent.
Some drivers think it's safe to get behind the wheel after having only a few drinks, but "buzzed driving" is also a cause of many alcohol-related fatalities, accounting for more than 1,800 in 2018.
After only a beer or two, drivers may have a BAC of 0.02 percent, which is enough to cause some slight impairment. This can still be dangerous when factored in with other causes of crashes, including distraction and drowsiness.
When drivers reach a BAC of 0.05 percent (still legal in most cases), they start to experience loss of coordination, reduced response to emergency situations, loss of attention, and difficulty steering.
At a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater, drivers tend to lose more control — both physically and cognitively.
How can I stay safe this St. Patrick's Day?
Drunk driving is inevitable on St. Patrick's Day, unfortunately. For those who plan on celebrating this year, here are some tips for staying safe:
- Designate a friend, relative, or colleague as a sober driver.
- Hail an Uber or cab.
- Stay within walking distance from home.
- Spend the night if possible.
- Avoid getting in the car with someone who is impaired by alcohol.
If you're sober and plan on driving home, watch out for drunk drivers. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, these are the signs that another motorist may be drunk:
- Accelerating or decelerating quickly
- Weaving through traffic
- Driving on sidewalks or the side of road
- Erratic braking
- Swerving out of lanes or across centerlines
- Delayed responses to traffic signs and signals
- Speeding or driving much slower than the speed limit
- Making abrupt or illegal turns
- Driving with headlights off at night
If you see another motorist driving erratically, it's best to pull over, get out of the way, and call the police. Should you be injured in a crash with a drunk driver, an experienced Washington car accident attorney at Herschensohn Law Firm, PLLC can help you pursue justice. We serve clients in Kent and the Seattle area. Contact us online to schedule your free consultation.