Leprechauns are coming out of the woodwork to assist road safety professionals and the gardai in Co Mayo to spread the road safety message in novel road safety campaign. In a build up to the celebrations of St patricks day, Leprechaun cut-outs /Selfie boards are been set up around the county in pubs.
St. Patrick's Day is now one the biggest party days of the year, surpassing even New Year's Eve for drunk driving. Figures released by the Gardaí last year showed a big spike in alcohol related road accidents and arrests over the St Patrick's Day period. Figures that look back over the past five years find that on average twice as many people are arrested on St Patrick's Day and the day after for drink driving offences than at any other point in the month of March. Between 2010 and 2014, 15 people were killed on Irish roads during the 16th - 18th March period with another 30 seriously injured.
This year, the road safety office of Mayo County Council and the local Gardai partnered with several bars to spread a creative message to not drink and drive: "If you're a little drunk, you'll get a lot arrested."
They stress that driving with alcohol on you this St Patrick's day could cost you a pot of leprechaun's gold -hundreds of Euros in legal fees, court costs and increased insurance rates. And those headaches don't include the safety risks you create if you choose to drive over the limit.
"We want them to go out and have a good time," Mandy Gaynor Traffic inspector said. "We just don't want them to get behind the wheel if they've been drinking, Obviously we want everyone to enjoy the festivities that will take place around the country, but please remember that if you are celebrating and consuming alcohol, leave the car behind. This not only applies to the day itself, but also the morning after."
St. Patrick's Day "ranks in the top days as far as deadly holidays go," said Inspector Mandy Gaynor.
Mr Martin Jennings Ballinrobe (inch's pub) is one of several bars across the County of Mayo that are teamed up with the road Safety Office to make sure its customers drink responsibly. To get customers engaged in the issue, while still having a good time, the bars have Leprechaun cut-outs set up where customers can get a fun photo while documenting their celebration on social media.
The idea is for customers to get their pictures taken as a Leprechaun, tweet it out or share it on Facebook, and create some buzz about not being buzzed behind the wheel.
"We want to make sure they come in here, have a phenomenal time, and get home safe to see their loved ones and go on the next day," Mr Martin Jennings said.
Noel Gibbons Road safety officer said "Our numbers are going up, and that is not a trend we want to see.""We want to see those numbers going down, preferably to zero."
For those who don't get the message, the arrests are happening , in 2015 over 7480 drivers were stopped driving while intoxicated.
Before drinking, plan ahead and designate a sober driver
· If you're impaired, call a taxi, sober friend/family member or use public transportation.
· Remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving. If you know people who are about to drive or ride with someone who is impaired, take the driver's keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
· Spread the word to your friends and loved ones by posting a picture of you in the leprechauns cut of out on your blog or Facebook page.