Officials from the Automobile Club of Southern California, state Department of Insurance and California Highway Patrol today urged party-goers to plan ahead for Super Bowl Sunday – one of the biggest annual global sporting events – with a designated driver or sober ride if attending a party or watching the game at a restaurant or bar due to the greater fatal and injury crash risk on this Sunday.
Super Bowl Sunday has become a custom for family and friends, with an emphasis on parties and restaurant outings that contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere and more opportunities for drinking alcohol.
Heightened Crash Risk
The Auto Club’s Chief Executive Officer Robert Bouttier, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and CHP Southern Division Assistant Chief Chris O’Quinn teamed up at the Auto Club’s Los Angeles historic headquarters to highlight the 77 percent increased risk of alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes throughout California on Super Bowl Sunday. In Los Angeles County, the increased risk is 57 percent and in San Diego County, it is 117 percent, according to an Auto Club analysis of CHP crash data. The analysis reviewed the number of alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes that occur from 5 p.m. Sunday through 4 a.m. the following day for the last five Super Bowl Sundays (2009-2013) compared to other Sundays during January and February.
“Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest one-day sporting event in the United States and unfortunately one of the most dangerous days on California’s roads and highways,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Deaths caused by DUI drivers are preventable. Every one of us has a responsibility to ensure we do not contribute to the problem by allowing a drunk or drugged driver to hit the road on Super Bowl Sunday.”
“Drivers and passengers should be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with Super Bowl Sunday,” said Bouttier. “We encourage everyone to make a plan -- designate a sober driver ahead of time, contact a ride-sharing service or use a taxi or public transportation. If those aren’t possible, the Auto Club will be offering its Tipsy Tow service.”
This community service is available for free from 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 1 to 6 a.m. Monday, Feb. 2 to help remove drinking drivers from the road. Tipsy Tow is available throughout California either by the Auto Club in Southern California or AAA Northern California.
To secure a Tipsy Tow, motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 1-800-400-4AAA for a free tow home of up to seven miles. Callers simply tell the Auto Club operators, “I need a Tipsy Tow,” to receive the free tow and ride home. One of the Auto Club’s independent road service providers will be dispatched. The Auto Club’s free service is unique in that it transports both the driver and their vehicle.
Tipsy Tow is not a taxi service. Callers need to keep in mind that the service excludes rides for passengers, is restricted to a one-way, one-time ride for the driver and the destination is limited to the driver’s residence. Reservations are not accepted. For rides farther than seven miles, drivers will be expected to pay the rate charged by the tow provider.
The Auto Club offers Tipsy Tow to help keep roads safe for all users, recognizing that drivers don’t always make the best choices when they have been partying. A recent AAA report found that 10 percent of motorists admit to driving when they thought their blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. Tipsy Tow eliminates the most common excuses for this behavior – concern about how to retrieve the car the next day and the cost or inconvenience of using a taxi or public transportation.
Tipsy Tow is not offered everywhere. Motorists outside of California should check with their local AAA club or at AAA.com for availability.
Party hosts can encourage designated drivers and responsible behavior by offering a variety of non-alcoholic beverage options such as these mocktail recipes compiled by the Auto Club.
To further encourage sports fans to not drink and drive on Super Bowl Sunday, Auto Club roadside assistance providers will hand out 15,000 DUI tip cards in Los Angeles County during the week of Jan. 26. Restaurant and bar patrons can use the cards, which display DUI arrests’ associated costs. The CHP and other law enforcement agencies will be expanding patrols and checkpoints to help identify drivers who fail to heed the warnings.
California DUI Arrests
California law enforcement officials arrest large numbers of DUI offenders every year. In 2013, an estimated 160,000 drivers were arrested for the offense, enough to fill Dodger Stadium three times. In California, 24,000 individuals were killed or injured in alcohol-related crashes in 2013.
“Super Bowl Sunday celebrations and alcohol consumption go hand-in-hand,” said the CHP’s Assistant Chief O’Quinn. “The CHP encourages game day fun, but discourages driving under the influence and any other unsafe driving. If you plan to drink, please prevent a tragedy by designating a sober driver, calling upon public transportation or considering Tipsy Tow service as a reliable option.”
Auto Club Reminds Drivers of the Cost of a DUI
DUIs are expensive in terms of time, money and grief not only to victims but to the families of people convicted of driving under the influence. 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. Costs related to DUI have risen sharply in recent years largely due to a large increase in fines and insurance for DUI drivers. The estimated cost of a first-offense misdemeanor DUI for those under age 21 is $21,500.
During the past five years:
- In California, there were 294 fatal and injury crashes on Super Bowl Sundays versus 166 for the comparable other Sundays – or 26 extra per year.
- In LA County, there were 77 fatal and injury crashes on Super Bowl Sundays versus 49 on the comparable other Sundays.
- In San Diego County, there were 40 fatal and injury crashes on Super Bowl Sundays versus 18 on the comparable other Sundays.