Plan for a sober driver this St. Patrick’s Day

KANSAS CITY — Although Irish in its roots, St. Patrick’s Day is most widely celebrated in the United States. To help keep your community safe, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Region 7, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, is asking for your help spreading the message about the dangers of drunk driving. If your plans for the holiday include alcohol, make sure you plan for a sober ride home. Even one drink can impair your ability to drive: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.


“This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, and that means more parties throughout the weekend,” said Susan DeCourcy, Regional Administrator for NHTSA Region 7. “People need to know that they can go out for a night of fun and return home safely by ensuring they have a sober driver take them home. Between 2016-2020, 287 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t let St. Patrick’s Day become an anniversary of a tragic night. If you’ve been drinking, even a single drink, make the smart choice to plan for a sober ride home for you and your friends because Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.”


St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest times on our nation’s roads. According to NHTSA, 11,654 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2020 and one person was killed in a drunk driving crash every 45 minutes. 760 of those fatalities happened in Region 7 alone. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020. This is why NHTSA is working to remind our community that drunk driving—even if you believe you’re “only buzzed”— is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death. As you head out to the festivities, help us spread the word: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.


In 2020 alone, 37 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18). Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can be deadly. A lack of attention to one’s surroundings could put pedestrians at a higher risk of getting hit by a vehicle.


If you’re the designated driver, make sure you keep that promise of safety to yourself and your passengers. It can be a long night, but people are counting on you, not to mention the other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the streets. Take the role of designated driver seriously — people are relying on you. If you’re hosting, take care of your guests by having non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers, and snacks and water for all your guests.


Party with a Plan


Before heading out, it’s vital to plan ahead. Be honest with yourself: You know whether you’ll be drinking or not. Follow these suggestions to ensure you and your fellow partygoers stay safe in your community.

  • Make a plan: If you wait until you’ve been drinking to make a smart decision, it might be too late. Before you have one drink, designate a sober driver who won’t be drinking.
  • Know your options: designate a sober driver, call a taxi, or use a rideshare service. Getting home safely is always worth it. Many of the communities in Region 7 have a sober ride program available.
  • Stay strong: If it’s your turn to be the designated driver, take your job seriously and don’t drink.
  • Act: If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
  • Be a friend: Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and let a sober driver get your friend home safely.

This St. Patrick’s Day, don’t push your luck. Plan for a sober ride, drink responsibly, and enjoy the holiday weekend.


For more information about the Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving campaign, visit