Washington County Safe Communities Coalition promotes St. Patrick’s Day safety

Planning to celebrate St Patrick’s Day? The wearing of the green, parades and drinking have become a regular part of this annual celebration. But the luck o’ the Irish may not help if you drink and drive.

Though Minnesota’s alcohol-related deaths decreased in 2004, Washington County’s numbers have risen. In 2004, there were 153 alcohol-related crashes, with 7 deaths and 72 injuries. Thirty-nine percent of all fatal crashes in the county are alcohol-related.

If you decide to don the shamrock shirt and join the fun, don’t let a tragedy ruin your good time. Enjoy the day and the days to come by remembering these tips:

• Designate your sober driver before the festivities begin and give that person your car keys.

• Eat a meal before you join the parade or go to the bar.

• Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself; eat, take breaks, alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.

• If impaired, don’t even think about getting behind the wheel. Ask a sober friend for a ride home or call a cab, friend or family member to come and get you.

• Remember, friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Take the keys and never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.

• Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving while impaired.

In Minnesota, 177 people died in impaired driving-related highway crashes during 2004. Every 30 minutes, nearly 50 times a day, someone in America dies in an impaired driving-related crash. Hundreds of thousands more are injured each year.

“Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is simply not worth the risk because the consequences are serious and real,” said Patricia Galligher, coordinator for the Safe Communities Coalition. “Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be very significant.”

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