Next week’s Super Bowl featuring the Denver Broncos vs. the Seattle Seahawks is expected to be the nation’s biggest sporting event of the year, with millions of fans gathering to watch at house parties, restaurants and bars where alcohol plays a prominent role in the festivities. The Automobile Club of Southern California is urging partygoers to arrange a sober ride home from Super Bowl festivities due to a greatly increased risk of DUI crashes on Sunday, Feb. 2.
Super Bowl Sunday drinking and driving crashes in California are about 75 percent greater than on other comparable Sundays in January and February, according to a 10-year analysis of fatal and injury crashes conducted last year by the Automobile Club of Southern California.
This is a substantial increase compared to the Auto Club's 2004 study of Super Bowl Sunday crashes. That study found that alcohol-related fatal and injury drinking and driving crashes increased 41 percent on Super Bowl Sunday (compared to other comparable Sundays). Both studies excluded January and February holiday periods from the analysis (New Year’s, President’s Day and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday). In Los Angeles County, the analysis showed that there were 55 percent more fatal and injury DUI crashes on Super Bowl Sunday than would have been expected, according to Bloch.
Last year’s analysis found that over the 10 years from 2002-2011, there were 642 alcohol-related fatal crashes on Super Bowl Sunday in California. The analysis found that if alcohol-related crashes on Super Bowl Sunday were no higher than on other comparable Sundays, 276 fewer fatal and injury alcohol-related crashes would have occurred.
“In other words, 28 more alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes occur annually in California due to drinking and driving on Super Bowl Sunday,” said Steve Bloch, Ph.D., Auto Club senior traffic safety researcher.
Designate a Sober Driver
“The Auto Club strongly encourages party goers to designate a sober driver to get them home safely after the game. Education and law enforcement have proven to be effective tools in reducing drinking and driving crashes, but prevention is the best tool of all,” Bloch added. Motorists are encouraged to take the sober driving pledge at: http://duijusticelink.aaa.com/for-the-public/take-the-pledge
The Auto Club reminds drivers that in 2012, 175,407 drivers in California were arrested for drinking and driving – enough to fill Dodger Stadium more than three times.
The national picture of annual drunken driving fatalities is grim as well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,322 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2012, an increase of 457 from the year before. Drunk-driving fatalities accounted for 31 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States, up from 30 percent in 2011.
To help keep drivers and passengers safe on Super Bowl Sunday, the Auto Club recommends these tips:
For Home Party Hosts:
- Ask all your guests to designate a sober driver in advance.
- Keep numbers for local cab and sober ride services handy.
- If hosting a Super Bowl party, be a responsible host. Take car keys from partygoers as they arrive and don’t let them drive drunk.
- As a host, serve food and non-alcoholic drinks and water. Many mocktail recipes can be found online, including at AAA.com/Westways
- Serve protein-rich and starchy foods to slow alcohol absorption.
- Do not serve alcohol to anyone under age 21.
- Stop serving alcohol in the third quarter of the game. Begin serving coffee and dessert.
- Allow guests to stay overnight, if possible.
For Party Guests or Patrons Watching the Game at Restaurants-Bars:
- Designate a sober driver in advance if attending a Super Bowl party.
- Keep a cab company and/or sober ride service telephone number in your cell phone and wallet so you can call for a ride home.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol, too quickly. Eat food and drink water during the party.
- Call a sober friend, family member or a taxi for a ride if you’ve been drinking. Or, if possible, stay where you are for the night.
- Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink.
- If you’re under 21, do not consume alcohol. It’s against the law.
- Buckle your seat belt each time you drive.
- If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911 (or pull over to a safe location to make the call yourself).
Auto Club Reminds Drivers of the Cost of a DUI
The Auto Club reminds motorists that people convicted of driving under the influence could lose many of the important things in their lives, such as family, job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first offense misdemeanor DUI conviction in California can cost approximately $15,649 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs. The figure has increased and was up 29 percent from the figure the Club computed just a few years ago – largely due to substantial increases in court and arrest fees and auto insurance rates that reflect a DUI conviction. The cost of an under age 21 first-offense misdemeanor DUI is even higher, estimated to be $22,492.