FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Army News Service, March 11, 2009) - The U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center is joining the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in efforts to help keep roads safe this St. Patrick's Day by encouraging Soldiers, civilians and their family members to drink responsibly and designate a sober driver before heading to the local festivities or pub.

Over the past five years, the Army has lost three Soldiers on this holiday, March 17, to motor vehicle crashes.

According to the NHTSA, 851 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes nation-wide on St. Patrick's day over the last five years, of which, 327 involved a drunk driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

"St. Patrick's Day is a time to celebrate Irish heritage and gather with friends and family, but it can quickly end in tragedy due to impaired driving," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tod Glidewell of the USACR/Safety Center. "You wouldn't leave a buddy pinned down under enemy fire in Iraq, so don't leave a buddy pinned down sitting at the end of a bar in hometown America."

NHTSA recommends the following tips:

-- Plan a safe way home before celebrations begin.
-- Designate a sober driver before any drinking begins.
-- If impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
-- Consider using the community's Sober Rides program.
-- If a drunk driver is seen on the road, don't hesitate to contact local law enforcement.
-- And if someone is about to drive or ride their motorcycle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

"Driving while impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is not the right thing to do," said Glidewell. "If you plan on drinking, have a plan and designate a sober driver. Remember we are a Band of Brothers and Sisters, on and off the battlefield, and need to look after each other."

According to NHTSA research, impaired driving remains one of America's deadliest problems.

In 2007, 12,998 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents that involved at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

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Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16