Don’t drive while impaired on St. Patrick’s Day

Oakdale Road -- photo by Larry Felton Johnson

I have a simple plea for Cobb County residents (and anyone else who happens to be reading this): Don’t drive while impaired with alcohol or any other drug.

I’m 70 years old. When I was young it was considered normal to go to a holiday celebration, get drunk, and eventually drive home. We weren’t much less ignorant of the dangers than people are today. Most people had either witnessed the effect of an accident caused by a drunk driver, knew someone who was affected, or had been in an accident while driving drunk themselves.

But we did it anyhow.

When I was in my 20s during the 1970s, I was one of those people who just considered being behind the wheel while under the influence a normal activity. (I no longer drink alcohol at all, for a variety of reasons)

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But the leniency around DUI of those years took its toll in lives, both of the impaired drivers themselves, and of innocent people unlucky enough to be caught in a collision caused by an impaired driver.

The roads are much safer today due to stricter enforcement.

The website driversed.com wrote in an article on the effects of the increased enforcement:

Deaths from drunk driving in 2018 were less than half the number of deaths in 1988, 10,511 to 27,253 respectively. Since Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) began their campaign against drunk driving in the early 1980s, supporting efforts to increase the legal drinking age and lower the BAC limit, the roads have become vastly safer for everyone.

There are a number of ways to avoid driving while under the influence.

The most obvious one is to not drink unless you can walk or take a cab or ride service home from the place where you’re celebrating.

Then there is always the option of having a designated driver.

If you don’t plan for those things ahead, AAA offers a public service they often do during the holidays, their “Tow to Go” program, which provides towing service and a ride home for people who become alcohol-impaired while away from home between 6 p.m. Thursday, March 17 and 6 a.m. Monday, March 21.

I’ve reprinted AAA’s press release below, which has the details of the program. Try to plan ahead so you don’t need it, but if you do, by all means, keep the phone number (855) 286-9246with you when you leave the house to celebrate the holiday.

Here’s the announcement from AAA. You be safe, and keep other people around you safe:

ATLANTA, Ga., (March 16, 2022) — AAA will be working to keep impaired drivers off the road this St. Patrick’s Day. The Auto Club Group is reactivating its Tow to Go program for the holiday period, providing safe transportation for impaired drivers and their vehicles.

  • Tow to Go is active from 6pm Thursday, March 17th – 6am Monday, March 21st
  • It’s available in selects states/locations (see below)
  • Should be treated as a last resort

AAA Tow to Go has removed more than 25,000 impaired drivers from the road. When called, a tow truck transports the would-be impaired driver and their vehicle to a safe location within a 10 mile radius. The service is free, yet AAA asks that it be treated as a backup plan.

Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes every day – that’s one person every 52 minutes.

“Driving impaired doesn’t only endanger yourself, but risks the lives of all the adults and children you share the road with,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Although AAA is proud to provide this life-saving program, we urge people to identify a safe ride home before they party, and treat Tow to Go as their last resort.”

Tow to Go Service AreasPhone Number
FL, IA, MI, ND, NE, TN, WI, CO (Denver), NC (Charlotte), IN (Fort Wayne/South Bend), and Georgia (excluding Savannah)(855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246

TOW TO GO GUIDELINES

  • Provided from 6pm Thursday, March 17th – 6am Monday, March 21st
  • Free and available to AAA members and non-members.
  • Confidential local ride for one person and their vehicle to a safe location within a 10 miles radius.
  • AAA service vehicles are limiting passengers to one (1) per vehicle, in accordance with established COVID-19 safety protocols.  Additional passengers need to make other arrangements.
  • Appointments cannot be scheduled in advance to use Tow to Go. It is designed as a safety net for those that did not plan ahead. Always choose a designated driver before celebrating.
  • In some situations, AAA may need to make other arrangements to get an impaired individual a safe ride home.
  • Tow to Go may not be available in rural areas or during severe weather conditions.
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