Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

March 16, 2018
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                   Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


NEW CITY, NY - - St. Patrick's Day has become one of the nation's favorite holidays to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, though, too many people choose to drink and drive, making the holiday one of our most dangerous. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fatal-crash data, in 2016, 60 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Paddy's Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18). This year, the potential risk may be even greater since St. Patrick's Day festivities will take place on a Saturday.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, along with the NHTSA and local highway and law enforcement officials, remind residents that incidences of vehicle accidents and deaths increase when people drink and drive.

"Drunk driving can result in serious crashes, injuries, or death," said Dr. Ruppert. That is why she and Rockland County Executive Ed Day suggest that those celebrating with alcohol designate a sober driver and tell friends and family who that driver is. "We want to encourage folks to turn over their keys to someone who is not impaired. If they don't have a sober designated driver to get them home safely, consider other ride options," said Dr. Ruppert.

In New York and in all states, drivers are considered alcohol-impaired if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Drunk driving can be deadly, and even small amounts of alcohol can impair judgement to make driving unsafe. Nationwide in 2016, there were 10,497 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drunk drivers. Among the 10,497 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities, 67 percent (7,052) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15, almost twice the legal limit.

But it's not just drivers and passengers that are at risk for fatalities involving cars; walkers and bicyclists are also in danger if they do not take precautions.

In Rockland County, the Town of Ramapo has the highest rates of pedestrian-traffic injuries and fatalities. In fact, it has been identified as one of the top 20 communities with the highest number of pedestrian crashes, as per the 2016 New York State (NYS) Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. Both pedestrians and drivers were found to be in violation of NYS Vehicle and Traffic Laws.

The Rockland County Department of Health, in keeping with its' "See! Be Seen!" initiative, is working with the County's Department of Public Transportation and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to educate the community in the Town of Ramapo on safety measures to take. This is a great opportunity to find out how to keep yourself and your family safe, and get important traffic safety information for both pedestrians and drivers.

Leaders of local organizations, agencies, businesses, community and faith-based groups are encouraged to schedule a free, interactive, 45-minute presentation Arrive Alive: Walk Wise Drive Smart. Participants will be provided with information they can post, distribute, and share with clients, customers, family members, and others. To schedule a presentation, and for more information call the Health Department at (845) 364-2500 and visit