The following is a press release from Kitsap County.
St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular holidays in the United States. The holiday is heavily celebrated by most Americans with friendly pinches, corned beef and cabbage, and green beer galore.
All of this merry-making can lead to dangerous driving conditions as party-goers head home.
In 2016 alone, 60 people were killed in impaired driving crashes over the St. Paddy’s Day holiday period. The selfish act of drinking and driving can rip people from their friends and loved ones forever.
For this reason, the Kitsap County Traffic Safety “Target Zero” Task Force is working to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving.
Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention to their surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
“We want our community members to plan ahead when they are celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day,” said Sheriff Gary Simpson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. “Whether you are driving yourself or your friends, make sure you stay sober or plan for a sober ride home. Remember: It’s not just about you. There are other people on the roads who want to get where they are going safely. Don’t let alcohol cause you to be a risk to yourself and others on the road. Drinking and driving is an act of selfishness. Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you’ve been drinking, you are in no shape to drive.”
Twenty-seven years ago, at age 18 at the time of his death, Steven Lennon and two friends were returning from Fort Lewis after a night of roller-skating on March 17, 1991. A BMW being driven east in the westbound lane of Highway 16 collided head-on with Lennon’s Volkswagen Rabbit, according to a Washington State Patrol report. Lennon was killed instantly. Both passengers were treated for injuries at Tacoma General Hospital. The driver of the BMW survived despite serious injuries.
He died on his sister Tammy’s birthday. “Every time she has a birthday, that’s what she thinks of,” Steven’s mom said. “Go rest high on your Mountain Steven, your work on earth is done, but you will never be forgotten by your sister and myself. You will never be forgotten by all the family and friends that loved you.”
Lennon was a graduate of Central Kitsap High School and had been attending community college. He received his acceptance letter from the University of Puget Sound the day after he died — he wanted to study English.
A decorated Boy Scout, Lennon earned the highest scouting honor when he became an Eagle Scout a few months earlier. “They granted him the Eagle Scout at his funeral. He had his whole future ahead of him. You don’t know what kids are going to do, getting killed early like this, he might have been a future president, find a cure for cancer, you never know,” Steven’s mom remembered.
“Please make a plan before you head out for St. Patrick’s Day parties,” Sheriff Simpson continued. “Consider being the sober designated driver for your friends. If you are planning to drink, plan for a safe ride home.” There are too many safe alternatives to choose otherwise. Think before you act.”
Target Zero recommends the following safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
- Always remember to plan ahead. You know whether you’ll attend a party. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously—your friends could be relying on you.
- Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve only had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 911.
- If you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely.
For more information regarding Target Zero, visit the Washington Traffic Safety Commission website at www.wtsc.wa.gov