FRANKFORT — As Kentuckians prepare to celebrate one of the country’s most popular holidays, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety and Kentucky State Police are reminding drivers to make plans before your St. Patrick’s Day party begins.
“If you know you are going to drink, designate a sober driver ahead of time to make sure you get home safely,” said KOHS Executive Director Bill Bell. “Alcohol not only dangerously impairs your driving skills — it impairs your judgment. Don’t wait until you’ve been drinking to find a sober driver.”
Tragically, St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s deadliest holidays. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than half of the fatal crashes that occurred last year during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday involved drunken drivers.
“All we ask is that when you celebrate, please be responsible,” said KSP Sgt. Michael Webb. “Drinking and driving is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving drunk, you will be arrested.”
Adding one more tool to combat drinking and driving is the “Drive Sober Kentucky” application. The app includes contact information for local taxi services and sober ride programs, a one-touch dial feature to report a drunken driver and a link to Kentucky’s HERO designated driver campaign. Download for free by searching “Drive Sober Kentucky” in the app store.
“With all the sober ride options available, there is never an excuse for driving after drinking,” said Bell. “However, with motorists still dying at the hands of a drunken driver, too many people are not getting the message.”
According to NHTSA, on average, one person is killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States. Last year, more than 18-percent of those killed on Kentucky roadways were due to a drunken driver.
“Not only is drinking and driving a crime that could land you with a hefty court bill and jail time, but you put yourself and others at risk,” said Sgt. Webb. “If you see a drunken driver, contact police when it’s safe to do so. You could save a life.”
To prevent roadway tragedies from occurring, the KOHS and KSP recommend the following:
• Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night.
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
• If you are impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation or your local sober ride program.
• If you see a drunken driver, contact law enforcement. You may dial the KSP toll-free line directly at 1-800-222-5555 or use the one-touch dial feature through the “Drive Sober Kentucky” app. Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.
• If you know people who are about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements.