Football games conjure up images of cheering fans, tailgating and cookouts, and for many, alcohol consumption. In fact, big football events like the Super Bowl call for increased measures by law enforcement agencies each year to try to prevent drunk drivers from taking to the road. Still, hundreds of crashes related to alcohol happen on Super Bowl Sunday annually, and the statistics are a sobering reminder to police and drivers that it’s a day to be especially alert.
According to a New England Journal of Medicine study, last year about 1,500 accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol happened following football games in Texas. Even scarier, nearly half – 45 percent – of football fans in Texas who drink alcohol while they’re watching the game will get behind the wheel to get home.
Other states have also reported higher drunk driving accidents and fatalities in the hours after the Super Bowl. In California, officials noted a rate of injury accidents and deaths related to drunk driving that went beyond normal levels for eight out of nine years on this football-lovers’ “holiday.” Nationwide, some statistics have shown as high as a 41 percent higher rate of alcohol-related fatalities.
Law enforcement agencies can somewhat predict when more drunk drivers are likely to hit the road by knowing big game schedules, but they are still urging people to call for a ride if they’ve been drinking alcohol while watching a football game. New videos posted on the popular social media tools YouTube and Facebook are also spreading the message not to drink and drive after a football game.
The National Commission Against Drunk Driving (NCADD) is also getting behind the effort to deter drunk driving after major sporting events, sending out warnings that events like Super Bowl Sunday may be especially dangerous for drivers. Some statistics say that more than half of all fatalities on the road on Super Bowl Sunday involve alcohol.
Officers say drunk drivers will often forget to turn on their headlights or swerve. Sending out extra law officials to search for drunk drivers is expensive work, but seems especially necessary around big games like the Super Bowl. Despite the cost, many law officials say it’s worth the extra effort to save lives.
Sobriety checkpoints following football games are another tool for finding drunk drivers and getting them off the road. The NCADD recommends that people planning to go to Super Bowl parties make certain a designated sober driver has been selected and that plenty of non-alcoholic drinks are available.
It’s also recommended that party-goers set a rule to stop serving or drinking alcohol during the third quarter, and that they take the initiative to confiscate the keys of anyone they suspect may not be able to safely operate their vehicle. Game watchers may also want to leave events early to avoid encountering more drivers who may be under the influence of alcohol.
In terms of fatalities related to drunk driving on holidays, Super Bowl Sunday remains on the top ten list each year. Aside from encouraging friends and family members to avoid alcohol if they are driving, football fans can take a few extra measures to stay safe, like making sure to wear seat belts and turning off cell phones when travelling.