KINGMAN - The Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety and the DUI Task Forces are urging the public to help keep the streets safe during St. Patrick's Day weekend and holiday celebrations by drinking responsibly and designating a sober driver before heading to the local parade or pub.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that over the past five years, 851 people lost their lives in motor vehicles crashes during the St. Patrick's Day Holiday.
Out of that number, 327 were killed in crashes that involved a drunken driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
Arizonan's DUI task forces will be out across the state conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout the celebrations this weekend to remove these dangerous drivers from the roads.
Last year during the St. Patrick's Day weekend and holiday crackdown, the Arizona DUI Task Forces arrested 241 people for impaired driving, including 66 on March 17.
"St. Patrick's Day is supposed to be a time to celebrate Irish heritage and gather with friends, but it can quickly end in tragedy due to impaired driving," said GOHS Director Richard Fimbres.
"If you plan on drinking, don't rely on luck to keep you safe or to keep you out of trouble. Be responsible and take appropriate precautions. Arizona has seen nearly a 25-percent reduction in traffic-related fatalities over the past two years, and we need to continue to drive sober to keep our roadways safe for everyone."
The Kingman Police Department and the GOHS recommends the following tips:
Plan a safe way home before your celebrations begin;
If you plan to get a ride home with someone else, designate a sober driver before any drinking begins;
If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;
Ask if the cab or bar offers a "Free Ride Back" or other free or discounted transportation program
If you happen to see a drunken driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact your local law enforcement or dial 911;
And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive a vehicle or operate a motorcycle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
"Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is an extremely risky thing to do," Fimbres said. "If you plan on using alcohol, plan ahead and look out for your friends, too. Always drive: Safe. Sensible. Sober."
According to NHTSA research, impaired driving remains one of America's deadliest problems. In 2007, 41,059 people nationwide were killed in motor vehicle crashes; 1,071 people were killed in Arizona traffic-related crashes. Nearly 13,000 people were killed nationally in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.