MDOT promotes safety for Cinco de Mayo festivities

MDOT promotes safety for Cinco de Mayo festivities

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the Mississippi Department of Transportation

Cinco de Mayo in the United States has become synonymous not only with tacos, sombreros and piñatas, but also with margaritas, tequila and beer. With alcohol such a big part of many people's Cinco de Mayo festivities, it's no surprise that drunk driving is especially high on May 5th.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) recognizes that celebrating Cinco de Mayo is very popular across Mississippi. MDOT would like to urge those who are planning on celebrating Cinco de Mayo to exercise caution and use good judgment on May 5 while they are out enjoying themselves.

Do you plan to join the fiesta on May 5? If so, it's important that you know the grim reality: 283 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes over the Cinco de Mayo weekend in 2013. Of those 283 people who lost their lives, 41 percent (115) of them died in drunk-driving crashes. And the drivers in those crashes weren't just a little drunk. Sadly, one out of five (21%) of all the drivers in fatal crashes that weekend had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .15 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher – almost two times the illegal per se limit in every state.

Drunk driving is a crime—a crime that can rob families of loved ones and turn a day of celebration into one of mourning.

Every 52 minutes in 2013, someone was killed in a drunk-driving crash in the United States, and 115 of those fatalities were on or around Cinco de Mayo.

"We want everyone to have a safe and happy Cinco de Mayo, by taking a few minutes ahead of time to get a plan together," said Melinda McGrath, MDOT Executive Director. "No one ever plans to drive drunk, they just don't have a different plan, so they make a terrible decision."

Preventing drunk driving is as easy as uno, dos, tres:

1) Plan your ride ahead of time:

o Designate your sober driver before the fiesta begins.

o Call a friend or taxi, or use public transportation; or

2) If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police. You could save a life.

3) 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.

A final statistic to remember: drunk-driving deaths are 100-percent preventable. As you make your Cinco de Mayo plans, make a sober ride home your priority. Law Enforcement Officers across the state are cracking down on drunk driving, and those who are caught will be arrested.

Help us spread the word: it's great to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with friends, but plan ahead and don't even think about getting behind the wheel after you have been drinking. There is always a safer, smarter alternative. Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.