(WFXR) — With St. Patrick’s day festivities just around the corner and the color green about to take over the streets of Downtown Roanoke, State Police reminds the community to stay safe on the roadways.

St. Patrick’s Day is often looked at as a way to celebrate with friends at pubs, parties, and festivals. However, the Virginia State Police says these celebrations have resulted in the holiday being one of the year’s most dangerous times to be on the road. In 2022, 5 fatalities and 72 injuries were reported in alcohol-related crashes during the week of St. Patrick’s Day in Virginia.

“Don’t let your first celebration of the season be your last. St. Patrick’s Day can be a fun time to have a pint with a pal but, remember, getting behind the wheel when intoxicated is no way to celebrate. Driving drunk is a choice – a choice with deadly consequences for you, your passengers, and every other motorist sharing the road with you. Never drive drunk or under the influence of drugs,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent.

In an effort to prevent traffic deaths and injuries during St. Patrick’s Day and Spring Break season, State Police will participate in ‘Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort’, aka C.A.R.E. The program incorporates a nine-day statistical counting period that begins on March 11.

Virginia State Police share the following tips for driving safely:

  • Ensure you have a designated sober driver, a plan to use public transportation, or a ride-share service BEFORE drinking begins.
  • Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Be honest with yourself and know that even if you only plan on having one drink, you should plan on having a designated driver.
  • Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly. Being under the influence can cause a lack of attention to their surroundings and put pedestrians at risk of being hit by a vehicle.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, pull over safely and dial #77 on a cell phone or call 911.
  • If you know someone who has been drinking and is about to drive, take the keys and make arrangements to get them home safely.
  • If you are driving, keep an eye out for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users on the roadways.