Cinco de Mayo safety tips

newspaperYou might not read a word in Spanish or speak the language at all. Even if you can recognize only the cognates across the languages, you already know Cinco de Mayo is fun in any language, especially if you take precautions to avoid the hazards of drinking and driving, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. It is a big red-letter day and it is becoming a big night out on the town for many at restaurants, pubs and bars, and for socializing, dancing, and drinking.

Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated in communities nationwide with delicious food, music and family festivals. But significant alcohol consumption during the festivities is a growing concern to many including participants and highway safety advocates too. Given the growing number of celebrations and celebrants out and about on Cinco de Mayo, AAA Mid-Atlantic is strongly encouraging celebrants to arrange a safe ride home before participating in any festivities.

For the first time in two years, alcohol-related fatalities as a whole increased in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  From 2012 to 2013, alcohol-related driving fatalities increased by over 16 percent (16.6%) in Virginia, according to preliminary crash data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

During 2012, almost half, (45%), of all crash deaths on Cinco de Mayo involved a drunk driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (calculated as 6 p.m. May 4 to 5:59 a.m. May 6).  Further, “From 2011 to 2012, the number of people killed in drunken driving crashes on Cinco de Mayo more than doubled,” says NHTSA.

“The latest trends in alcohol related fatalities in the Commonwealth are quite frankly unacceptable,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Likewise, it is quite disappointing to realize nearly half of the fatalities in the nation could have been prevented if someone would have just simply planned ahead and designated a driver,” added Meade.

AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends the following tips to have a safe and happy Cinco de Mayo:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver for your group and leave your car keys at home.
  • If you’ve been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.
  • AAA encourages all to Take The Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.
  • If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police.

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