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The original item was published from 3/13/2014 9:10:35 AM to 3/19/2014 12:05:01 AM.

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Posted on: March 13, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Operation Lucky Strike Force Keeps Roads Safer for St. Patrick's Day

(Roanoke County, VA – March 13, 2014) – St. Patrick's Day is March 17, and Roanoke Valley Law Enforcement Officials are reminding drivers not to get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking. Operation "Lucky" Strike Force joins Police and Troopers from the Roanoke Valley once again for heightened valley wide saturation patrols over the St. Patrick's Day weekend. Officers from Roanoke County, Roanoke City, Town of Vinton, City of Salem and Virginia State Police will be out in force and working together in coordinated efforts to keep you safe.

"Impaired drivers continue to cause senseless injuries and deaths on our roadways. This weekend, law enforcement agencies in the Roanoke Valley will be teaming up to ensure that impaired drivers are stopped and arrested. We encourage anyone who is planning to drink to designate a driver. That's the best way to keep us all safe on the roadway," said Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall. The Virginia State Police want to remind you to be extra cautious on the roads this St. Patrick’s Day. Just because you’re a safe and sober driver doesn’t mean other people are. A large number of traffic crashes on St. Patrick’s Day are caused by people driving under the influence.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 269 people have been senselessly killed nationwide in crashes involving drunk drivers during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday from 2007 to 2011. The Virginia State Police reported three fatal crashes on St. Patrick's Day alone for 2012 and 2013 together. Those fatalities were preventable.

"When you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, don't count on it being your lucky day, be smart about it. If you know you’re going to drink—whether with friends, at a pub or attending another social function—have a plan, designate a sober driver ahead of time or call a taxi to make sure you get home safely," said Roanoke County Police Special Operations Sergeant Jay Matze. "There’s never an excuse for driving after drinking."

According to NHTSA in 2011, on average, one person was killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States. Most of these crashes involved drunk drivers who had blood alcohol concentrations of .15 or higher, almost twice the legal limit of .08.

To prevent these tragedies from occurring, Roanoke Valley Public Safety Agencies recommend the following steps to have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day:

- Before the festivities begin, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night.
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to
get home safely.
- If available, use your community’s sober ride program.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police or call. You could save a life.

And remember, 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.

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