FRANKFORT – While this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will look a little different, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) Office of Highway Safety is joining the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in reminding motorists that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.
“We understand it’s been a tough year and Kentuckians are looking for a reason to celebrate; however, safety must be top priority,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Please follow all COVID-19 precautions when out in public – wear a mask and maintain proper social distancing. If you plan to drink alcohol, plan for a safe ride home by designating a sober driver.”
Over the past two years, KYTC reports 34 crashes statewide related to a drunken driver on the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, resulting in 14 injuries and one death.
“Impairment begins with one drink,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “Alcohol not only impairs your driving skills – it hinders your judgment – so don’t wait until you’ve been drinking to find a sober driver.”
According to NHTSA, on average, one person is killed every 52 minutes in a drunken-driving crash in the United States. Last year, more than 15 percent of deaths on Kentucky roadways were due to a drunken driver.
“Drunken driving crashes are 100 percent preventable,” said Gray. “With all the sober ride options available, there is never an excuse for driving after drinking. Don’t be the reason someone — including yourself — doesn’t get home safely.”
Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention to their surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
To prevent tragedies from occurring, NHTSA and the KYTC recommend the following:
Before any festivities begin, plan a way to get home at the end of the night safely;
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;
Even if you have only had one alcoholic beverage, use a ride-booking company, taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
If you see an impaired driver, safely pull over and contact law enforcement. You may dial the Kentucky State Police toll-free line directly at 1-800-222-5555 or call 911.
If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to reach their destination safely;
Wear a seat belt! It is the best defense against an impaired driver. Buckling up helps prevent injury and death if involved in a crash.