Berks police remind public to plan for a sober driver this St. Patrick’s Day

To help keep the streets safe, Berks County Police are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this St. Patrick’s Day to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving.

“This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, and that means more parties throughout the weekend,” said Sergeant David Bentz, Exeter Township Police Department and County Coordinator for the North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program.

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“If you’ve been drinking, make the smart choice to plan for a sober driver to get you and your friends home safely. Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.”

According to NHTSA, 11,654 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2020. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020 — one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 45 minutes in 2020.

This is why Berks County Police are working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death.

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St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest times on our nation’s roads. During the 2016-2020 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 287 lives were lost in drunk-driving crashes. In 2020 alone, 37 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18).

Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly; lack of attention to surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

“Drunk drivers are a continuing problem on our nation’s roads, especially around days like St. Patrick’s Day,” said Sergeant Bentz. “People need to know that they can go out for a night of fun and return home safely by ensuring they have a sober driver take them home. Don’t be the reason someone — including yourself — doesn’t get home. Don’t let St. Patrick’s Day become an anniversary of a tragic night.”

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, not to mention the other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the streets. Take the role of designated driver seriously — people are relying on you.

Party with a Plan

Before ever heading out, it’s vital to plan ahead. Be honest with yourself: You know whether you’ll be drinking or not. Follow these ideas to ensure you and your fellow partygoers stay safe.

Plan ahead: If you wait until you’ve been drinking to make a smart decision, you might not. Before you have one drink, designate a sober driver who won’t be drinking.

You have options: designate a sober driver, call a taxi, or use a rideshare service. Getting home safely is always worth it. Some communities even have a sober ride program, UBER or LYFT.

If it’s your turn to be the designated driver, take your job seriously and don’t drink.

If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact 911.

Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and let a sober driver get your friend home safely.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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