The City of Missoula Police Department released this information regarding safe driving on St. Patrick’s Day.
Missoula Montana, St. Patrick’s Day is one of America’s most widely celebrated holidays, for the Irish and nonIrish alike. It’s a great excuse to gather with friends and family and make merry over bangers n’ mash and a pint of green beer. Sadly, the night often ends with drunk drivers on the road, which pose a threat to other drivers, vehicle passengers, and pedestrians. In 2016 alone, 60 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes during the St. Paddy’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18). Not only is this behavior deadly, it’s illegal. For that reason, Missoula area Law Enforcement will be out in full force to make sure that if you are behind the wheel, you are sober. This year, if you’ll be drinking alcohol, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Tragically, March 17 has become a dangerous holiday on our nation’s roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period, almost twofifths (39%) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 didn’t fare much better. Between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly three-fourths (69%) of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. In fact, from 2012 to 2016, almost two-fifths (38%) of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) well above the .08 limit, with 269 drunkdriving fatalities total. 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 being hit by a vehicle.
“St. Patrick’s Day should only be a good time for members of our community,” said Missoula Police Sergeant Greg Amundsen. “But we need your help to make this a reality. A commitment to sober driving keeps our neighborhood roads safe. Always make a plan before heading out to the festivities. Understand the dangers of drinking and driving. It is illegal to drink and drive, and should never be an option for how you get home. Designate a sober driver before you and your friends go out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over—St. Paddy’s Day, and every day,” he said. Drunk-driving death rates are staggering: In 2016, there were 10,497 people killed in drunk-driving crashes. Another way to look at it? An average of 1 person was killed every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States that year. Too many people are not getting the message. Drunk driving is a deadly and illegal behavior. It is inexcusable, and it is unacceptable. “We are asking our community’s drivers to work with us to end drunk driving,” said Sergeant Greg Amundsen. “There are too many safe alternatives to get you home safely. Think before you act.”
Missoula Police Department recommends the following safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
First: Always remember to plan ahead. You know whether you’ll attend a party. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously—your friends could be relying on you. Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve only had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely. Download NHTSA’s “SaferRide” mobile app. “SaferRide” allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up. Use your community’s sober ride program, Yellow Cab, UBER, LYFT, Green Taxi, Home Free Missoula, U-Dash or Mountain Line. If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact 911 to report them to Local Law Enforcement. Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely.