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3/15/2013 - Three ways to ensure a safe St. Patrick's Day

Police will certainly be on the lookout for drunk drivers on St. Patrick's Day.

From Dublin City, California, to Dublin Town, New Hampshire, millions of people have March 17 marked on their calendars so that they can ring in St. Patrick's Day with their friends and loved ones.

While the holiday was initially a religious tradition celebrated predominantly by Catholics, it has since become an internationally recognized occasion that's rung in with Irish-inspired food and drink, like cabbage and corned beef, alongside a Guinness draft. In fact, Beth Davies Ryan, corporate-relations director for the beermaker, says that on average approximately 5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed daily around the world, National Geographic reports. But that total jumps to 13 million on the day originally named as the Feast of Saint Patrick.

It's not just Guinness that's consumed with greater frequency, however. While most people who consume alcohol do so responsibly, there have been a number of occasions in which people have gotten behind the wheel in an inebriated state after having one too many. For example, according to the Department of Transportation, approximately 60% of all U.S. traffic fatalities that occurred in the evening hours of St. Patrick's Day were among drivers with a blood concentration level of 0.01 or higher. And with this year's celebration falling on a Sunday, there's fear that there could be more auto insurance claims and accidents occurring where alcohol may have been a factor.

But there are ways in which St. Patrick's Day revelers can help ensure they have a good time on March 17 without risking themselves, their friends or someone else's life by driving after they've had too much to drink.

1. Don't drink at all. It may sound obvious, but perhaps the best way to celebrate is by not having any type of alcoholic beverage while at a party. While alcohol sales and consumption do tend to increase on St. Patrick's Day, a considerable percentage of Americans are shying away from it altogether. And among those who do drink, many like to keep it to no more than one beer.

2. Bring a designated driver. Depending on the person, it doesn't take many drinks for them to feel out of sorts and not in the best condition to drive. All too often, however, many people get behind the wheel when driving ought to be left to a friend or relative. For this reason, party-goers should consider bringing a designated driver. Appointing one person to refrain from drinking significantly reduces the risk of getting into an accident.

3. Make alternative transportation arrangements. Taxis, buses and commuter trains may be a convenient option for people to get around if they don't have a car, but they're also ideal after celebrations in which alcoholic beverages were flowing. Before heading home, make arrangements with a taxicab provider or bring some extra money for train fare so that everyone can get back to their houses safe and sound.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 people in the U.S. die every day after being involved in an accident where alcohol played a role. This St. Patrick's Day, Americans can avoid become a statistic by drinking responsibly.

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