Don’t become chilling stat amid revelry for St. Pat


Regardless of their ances- try, hordes of Mahoning Valley residents today will don the green, down healthy helpings of corned beef and celebrate in true Irish style with ale, beer, and other spirited adult beverages.

But at the risk of being labeled a party pooper or teetotaler, we urge all who take St. Patrick’s Day revelry amid March Madness seriously to exercise responsibility and restraint. On this day punctuated by unbridled merriment, serious injuries and deaths from drunken driving accidents skyrocket.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, today ranks as one of the worst days of the year for the number of drunken driving accidents and fatalities. That number typically doubles today.

To wit, 29 people died each day in 2016 in crashes involving a drunken driver. On St. Patrick’s Day, 60 were killed, according to the NHTSA.

The agency also reports that alcohol-related crashes that result in death will occur every 36 minutes today, and 75 percent of those crashes involve a drivver whose blood-alcohol levels exceed twice the legal limit.

In the Buckeye State, the narrative is chillingly similar.

“The popularity of the holiday has also made it a dangerous time to travel on Ohio’s roadways,” the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported this week in a St. Patrick’s Day weekend alert to motorists. In 2017, 315 people were killed and 6,868 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes in the state.

LOCAL SPIKE IN TRAFFIC DEATHS

In the Mahoning Valley, today’s holiday arrives at a time of alarmingly high upticks in crashes and traffic deaths. In the first 75 days of 2018, for example, urban areas of Mahoning County have recorded six traffic fatalities, compared with seven for all 365 days of 2017.

Though alcohol was not considered a factor in those fatalities, the increased carnage points to the demands and dangers of driving even without any impairments – particularly today when spring road work is beginning in earnest.

Given those realities, we commend the OSHP and other local law-enforcement agencies for planning saturation patrols and Operating a Vehicle Impaired checkpoints tonight and through the weekend. We urge them to be vigilant in their priority mission to keep drunks off all streets, roads and highways.

They, however, can only do so much. St. Patrick’s Day party people must take a leading role as well.

First, they should leave their car keys at home and designate drivers who vow complete sobriety.

Those who did not plan ahead and have imbibed even one or two alcoholic beverages should call a cab or Uber to safely carry them home. After all, a $20 taxi fare pales in comparison to the estimated average $6,500 it costs today to adjudicate a first-offense OVI charge.

In addition, the state patrol in Ohio urges any motorist who witnesses impaired driving to dial #677 to report it.

Yes, today is the day we celebrate the luck of the Irish. But Irish or not, revelers must not take any life-or-death chances. That’s why we urge all St. Patrick’s Day merrymakers to keep drinking and driving out of the holiday mix.

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