Spring break season has begun, and college students are heading for the beaches of Florida. For many students, spring break is a time of hard partying, prompting this warning from the Florida Highway Patrol: “Be safe! Be smart!”

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says that March is the leading month for fatal accidents in Florida. Many involve students and drinking.

About half a million students visit Panama City every year during spring break, the Exponent of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville points out, and there are frequent reports of injuries. Not surprisingly, alcohol is often involved when things get out of hand.

Recently, an 18-year-old on spring break from Tennessee was charged with DUI manslaughter after his car collided with a scoot car, killing its driver, a fellow 22-year-old spring breaker. The 18-year-old’s blood-alcohol content was 0.159, which is almost twice the legal limit, according to a news report.

In 2011, a 19-year-old college student died while on spring break in the city. The youth fell from a hotel balcony and was later discovered to have had a very high blood-alcohol content.

Throughout the state in 2012, there were 17,199 traffic crashes related to alcohol. This resulted in more than 12,000 injuries.

Traffic accidents killed 2,424 people in Florida in 2012. Accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers accounted for 697 deaths.

In Hillsborough County, traffic crashes killed 178 people in 2012. Of those deaths, 48 – or nearly 27 percent – were the result of drunk or impaired driving.

To those planning on hitting the beaches in Florida – or anywhere around the U.S. – for spring break, please be safe and exercise good judgment. A vacation that ends in an injury or arrest (or worse) will not be one to remember fondly.