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Don’t Rely on Luck: How to Stay Safe on St. Patrick’s Day

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OnStar provides tips on how to stay safe while driving on St. Patrick’s Day, including the best times to drive and ways to identify impaired drivers.

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OnStar provides tips on how to stay safe while driving on St. Patrick’s Day, including the best times to drive and ways to identify impaired drivers.

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St. Patrick’s Day is an international celebration of Irish culture and heritage. However, some take the revelry a bit far; St. Patrick’s Day is the fourth most popular drinking day of the year in the United States. Sadly, this has served to make the roads more dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 40 percent of all traffic fatalities during the 2016 holiday were the result of drunk driving.

Avoiding driving on St. Patrick’s Day may not be an option, though. So if you have to hit the road, 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, it’s important to have a plan. And that starts with knowing the best times to be on the road. According to J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), drunk driving crashes tend to spike in the evening and at night. If you want to celebrate the holiday, be sure to have a plan for getting everyone home before you hit the road.

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 these behaviors, remember that 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, be sure to stay far behind the suspected drunk driver.

Protect yourself

If you see erratic driving on the road, MADD recommends contacting the police immediately.

“Drunk drivers are still the biggest killers on our roadways, and making sure they’re off the road is very important,” Griffin says. “Contact the police.”

Notifying law enforcement is as easy as pushing your vehicle’s red Emergency button,*16 which provides you with a priority connection to a specially trained OnStar Emergency 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.

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 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people in the United States die in alcohol-related crashes every day — that’s one life lost every 51 minutes. Taking steps to prepare yourself can help protect you if you ever encounter a drunk driver on the road.

Do you know what to do in other types of what-if situations? Find out what to do if you’re behind the wheel when the unexpected happens.