On Sunday, Feb. 2, the San Francisco 49ers will battle the Kansas City Chiefs during Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest U.S. sporting event each year that is often celebrated by friends and families at bars, restaurants and house parties. With the potential for fans to enjoy the big game with alcohol and recreational marijuana, the Auto Club reminds everyone, before heading out to watch the game, to make plans to get home safe.
One-third of all crashes in California are due to impaired driving. Of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 who were screened for legal or illegal drugs, 11 percent of them tested positive, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. Also in 2017, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities made up 31 percent of all traffic crash fatalities in the Golden State.
“Just one alcoholic drink impairs a driver’s judgement, concentration, and ability to interpret situations, signs and signals as well as slows down reaction time,” said the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Traffic Safety and Community Programs Manager Anita Lorz Villagrana. “Marijuana use can also inhibit concentration, slow reaction times and cloud judgment. If you’ve used marijuana don’t drive and if you plan to drive don’t use marijuana,” she added.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety just released a study, which found the share of Washington state drivers involved in a fatal crash, who tested positive for active THC – the drug’s main psychoactive ingredient – has doubled since the state legalized marijuana in December 2012. The latest research found that between 2008 and 2012 – the five-year period before the drug was legal – an estimated 8.8% of Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes were positive for THC. That rate rose to 18% between 2013 and 2017, the five-year period after legalization. AAA believes the increase raises important traffic safety concerns for drivers across the country, because recreational marijuana use is now legal in Washington, D.C. and 11 states, including California.
According to the California Highway Patrol, 1,130 people statewide were arrested for DUI (alcohol and drugs) during the last five Super Bowl Sundays. During that same timeframe 67 people in California were killed or seriously injured in DUI crashes on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Auto Club reminds everyone that if you’re convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or a combination of both, you could lose things that are most important in life such as family, job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first-offense misdemeanor DUI conviction in California can cost more than $21,000 in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs, and that cost is more than $22,000 if the person convicted is underage.
Auto Club Tips for Staying Safe This Super Bowl Sunday
For Party Hosts:
- Ask all your guests to designate a sober driver in advance.
- Keep phone numbers for sober ride services handy.
- Be a responsible host. Take car keys from partygoers as they arrive and don’t let them drive impaired.
- Serve food and non-alcoholic drinks and water. Many zero-proof mocktail recipes, including those featuring team colors, can be found online.
- Serve protein-rich and starchy foods to slow alcohol absorption.
- Do not serve alcohol or cannabis to anyone under age 21. It is illegal.
- Stop serving alcohol in the third quarter and serve coffee and dessert instead.
- Allow guests to stay overnight, if possible.
- Thank designated drivers with a small gift.
For Party Guests or Patrons Watching at Restaurants and Bars:
- Designate a sober driver in advance if attending a Super Bowl party.
- Keep a sober ride service app or telephone number in your cell phone or wallet so you can arrange for a ride home. Make sure the ride service driver matches the driver on the app. Bus service could be an option as well.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol too quickly. Eat food and drink water during the party.
- Call a sober friend or family member 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 consuming marijuana or drinking alcohol - even after just one drink.
- If you’re under 21, do not consume alcohol or marijuana. 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).