St. Patrick’s Day revelers are being encouraged to think about how they are getting home from their celebrations.
In an campaign targeting drunken driving announced this week, Kansas and Missouri officials urged those who drink to “Choose Your Ride” home.
The choices, according to the campaign, are a designated driver, a taxi, a police car or a hearse.
“We certainly want people to pick that choice of that cab ride, or you can designate a driver,” said Bill Whitfield, program administrator for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Traffic and Highway Safety Division.
“You can give those keys to someone else. You do not have to make the choice to drink and drive.”
As part of the Operation Impact campaign, 48 law enforcements agencies in Kansas and Missouri will conduct sobriety checkpoints and stepped-up patrols specifically looking for impaired drivers.
The campaign runs Friday through St. Patrick’s Day.
“Hopefully we get through these next four days with zero fatalities,” Whitfield said.
Chris Murphy, the regional administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said this time of year is very dangerous because of impaired drivers.
“This weekend, everybody’s Irish,” Murphy said. “But those of us celebrating need to pay attention to and use programs such as ‘Choose Your Ride’ or designate a driver.”
People need to make that choice before the celebrations begin, he said.
On St. Patrick’s Day last year, 91 people in the U.S. were killed in crashes involving impaired drivers.
“Help us let everyone know that it’s great to don the green this weekend, but it’s not OK to drive while impaired,” Murphy said.
Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Howard Dickinson, who is the co-president of the Operation Impact initiative, said crashes involving impaired drivers accounted for about 30 percent of the fatalities in Kansas last year.
“They shouldn’t be 30 percent of our fatalities,” he said. “We need to take people off our streets when we have the ability to do so, and the public needs to take them off the streets before they ever drive. That’s the best way to go home and choose your own ride.”