With St. Patrick’s Day approaching March 17th, the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau is putting out advance notice that a Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) will take place in the days leading up to the holiday. Extra law enforcement officers will be on the roads March 13-17, 2015, to keep Iowa motorists safe.
Officials say the weekend leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, and the day itself, is a particularly deadly time, with a dramatic spike in drunk-driving fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013, 40-percent of all crash fatalities during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend involved drunk drivers, and that number rose to 55-percent in the post-party hours of midnight – 6:00 a.m., of March 18th. Almost 75-percent of those fatalities involved drivers who were twice the legal limit. Over the last four years, nationwide, drunk driving kills on average 68 people each St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Authorities say before you take your first sip of green beer, make a plan. If you become impaired and don’t have a designated driver, call a friend, relative, cab or use public transportation to get home safely. If you think a cab fare is expensive, consider the average $10,000 expense of getting an OWI, including higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, towing fees, lost wages, and other unanticipated expenses. Above all, they say “Be safe and smart this St. Patrick’s Day holiday! Whether you’re buzzed or drunk, it doesn’t matter. Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving – drive sober.”