On February 4, more than 66,200 people will converge on U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota to witness the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots battle for the title of World Champions. Millions more will be watching on TV. According to Nielsen, 111.3 million people watched Super Bowl LI last year, making it the most watched telecast of 2017. For those keeping count, that’s a lot of fans.
Super Bowl watch parties offer a little something for everybody, whether it’s the game, commercials, or halftime show. Another thing they offer—lots of alcohol. The problem is some fans think it’s OK to take the party with them once the game is over.
Call a Timeout on Drinking and Driving
Once a champion hoists the Lombardi Trophy roads will flood with people heading home. Super Bowl celebrations paired with lots of drinking could make driving conditions very dangerous this Sunday.
How big is the problem? Data collected from 600,000 repeat DUI offenders supervised with continuous alcohol monitoring bracelets shows that drinking violations jump an average of 22% on Super Bowl Sunday, compared to typical Sunday violation rates. Rates also spike substantially higher in parts of the country with a team in the big game. And those are people who know they aren’t supposed to drink and know they’ll get caught. You can imagine the drinking rates among unmonitored fans.
Law enforcement and other agencies around the country will be doing their best to protect road users by ramping up DUI enforcement plans, including DUI checkpoints and education campaigns.
With their Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is encouraging people who intend to drink to plan ahead and use a designated driver. NHTSA also offers a free app—called SaferRide—for both Apple and Android users that allows partygoers to find a cab or contact a friend for a safe and sober ride home.
Making a Game Plan
Once the final whistle blows, everyone—whether you’re hosting a party or attending one—has a role to play in keeping drunk drivers off the streets. Even small amounts of alcohol can impair a driver’s judgment and the risks are just too great.
Statistically, one person is killed in a drunk-driving crash every 50 minutes. That amounts to three alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities in the time it takes to watch one NFL game. Over the past decade, the United States has averaged more than 10,000 drunk-driving deaths per year.
The most important play call on Sunday night may not be a run, a pass, or a blitz, but a call for a cab or ridesharing service. And for everyone on the road Sunday, remember to buckle up. . . often, the best defense is a good offense.
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