Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
March 16, 2016

Contact Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356 or leah.bucco-white@nebraska.gov

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?
DHHS/Partners Working to Keep You Safe on the Road

Lincoln – St. Patrick’s Day is a popular and celebrated holiday. With all the celebration, March 17 becomes one of the nation’s deadliest holidays involving drunk-drivers. In Nebraska, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for law enforcement with a very high number of DWI arrests.

“Alcohol not only dangerously impairs your driving skills - it impairs your judgment. If you see friends drinking alcohol, make sure they don’t plan to drive home,” said Jeanne Bietz, Community Health Educator with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Injury Prevention Program.

Binge drinking is also more common around holidays. Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report impaired driving than non-binge drinkers according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge drinking among Nebraskans is higher than the national average. Data shows in 2014, just over twenty percent of Nebraska adults reported binge drinking within the last month. Nebraska ranks 47th in the nation for binge drinking according to America’s Health Rankings.

A total of 339 people died in the state from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes from 2010-2014 according to the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.

DHHS’ Injury Prevention Program and partners in the Drive Smart Nebraska coalition remind Nebraskans of ways to stay safe on the road during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday and year-round:

  •  Don’t drink and drive. 
  •  Plan ahead for the evening by having a designated driver if you plan to drink.
  • Take the keys. Be a friend and don’t let a friend drive if they are impaired.
  • One of the best defenses against a drunk driver is to always wear your seat belt.

Report impaired drivers to the Nebraska Emergency Highway Help Line at 1-800-525-5555 or *55 from a mobile phone, when it is safe to do so.

“Nebraska ranks sixth in the country in DWI arrests per capita,” said Fred Zwonechek, Administrator for the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety. “Selective enforcement campaigns and sobriety checkpoints will be conducted across the state by local, county and state law enforcement to prevent injuries and fatalities related to impaired-driving.”
 
DHHS is part of several efforts focusing on motor vehicle safety and keeping Nebraskans buckled up and driving safely.
 
Seat Belts are No Accident – An educational campaign goal to increase seat belt use by reminding Nebraskans of the important things they buckle up for. Newspaper ads, web banners and PSAs are available for use by communities to promote seat belt use.
 
Teens in the Driver Seat - A school based peer-to-peer traffic safety program focused exclusively on teen driver safety. TDS is being carried out in 21 Nebraska high schools to address the top five risks for teen drivers: night time driving, speeding, distractions, low seat belt use and alcohol.
Driving the Right Message – A campaign to educate parents about the important role they play in keeping their teen safe behind the wheel. Information on graduated driver licensing, how to keep teen drivers safe and the importance of parental involvement can be found on the Driving the Right Message website at www.parentsdrivethemessage.ne.gov/.
 

Drive Smart Nebraska Coalition – A coalition of public and private partners that carry out proven road safety policies and activities. The coalition is dedicated to eliminating injuries and death on Nebraska roads. 
 
More information on these programs, can be found at http://dhhs.ne.gov/PublicHealth/InjuryPrevention/Pages/MotorVehicle.aspx
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