St. Patrick’s Day is an international celebration of Irish culture and heritage. However, some take the revelry a bit far. A recent study reveals that St. Patrick’s Day is the third most popular drinking day of the year in the U.S., and it is the highest-grossing day of the year for bars and restaurants. Sadly, this has served to make the roads more dangerous for everyone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 63 percent of crash fatalities between midnight and 6 a.m. during the 2019 holiday involved a drunk driver.
If you have to hit the road on St. Patrick’s Day, or if you’re planning on celebrating yourself, here are some tips to help you stay safe and protected against impaired drivers.
Make a plan
- If you know you’re going to be driving on St. Patrick’s Day, consider adjusting your schedule to avoid driving in the evening and at night, when drunk driving crashes tend to spike.
- If you want to celebrate the holiday, have a plan for getting everyone home safely. For example, get a ride from a designated friend or family member who will remain sober, or take advantage of taxis or ride-sharing services.
- If you’re walking or getting a ride, know you can use the OnStar Guardian™ app* to contact an OnStar Advisor in case of an emergency.
- You can also use the Location Status* feature within the Guardian app to share and view locations with up to seven family members* — perfect for making sure that loved ones have reached their destinations safely.
Identifying an impaired driver
While it’s not always possible to identify an impaired driver, you should be aware of some of the more notable signs, including:
- Speeding or driving significantly under the speed limit
- Erratically changing speed
- Weaving from lane to lane or swerving within a lane
- Failing to recognize or obey traffic signs
- Driving without using proper lights or signals
If you see erratic driving on the road, safely contact the authorities immediately. Remember, an impaired driver can cause a crash at any time. Always buckle up and do not attempt to pass the vehicle or speed away. Instead, stay far behind the suspected drunk driver.
Red or Blue?
Check out our guide to which button to push, depending on the help you need
Notifying law enforcement is as easy as pushing your vehicle’s red Emergency button,* which provides you with a priority connection to a specially trained OnStar Emergency-Certified Advisor* who can contact police while you maintain a safe distance from the suspected impaired driver. Try to have information about the vehicle’s make, model, color and license plate number ready for the Advisor. However, do not attempt to follow or approach the vehicle if you are lacking any details. While more information will help police, it is not worth the potential risk.
If you’re not in your vehicle and think you’ve spotted an impaired driver, you can still reach an Advisor through the Guardian app — just push the red Emergency button in the app to be connected.
Beyond St. Patrick’s Day
While big drinking days like New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and the Super Bowl tend to get a lot of coverage, it’s important to remember that impaired driving is a problem every day of the year. According to NHTSA data, 28 people in the United States die in alcohol-related crashes every day — that’s one life lost every 52 minutes. In 2019, NHTSA reports there were more than 10,000 alcohol-related crash fatalities. Taking steps to prepare yourself can help protect you if you ever encounter a drunk driver on the road.