Nighttime Hours are Particularly Dangerous
(Los Angeles, Feb. 3, 2005) — The nighttime hours of Super Bowl Sunday are among the most dangerous periods of the year for drinking and driving, according to a study by the Automobile Club of Southern California. The analysis of California alcohol-related crash data for 1994–2002 measured alcohol-related deaths and injuries on 10 national holiday periods and four special occasions.
Comparing DUI deaths and injuries during the study period, Super Bowl Sunday ranks as the second most dangerous at night. Nighttime hours extend from 5 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday.
The study compares the number of DUI-related deaths and injuries with what typically would be expected on non-Super Bowl Sunday night periods in January and February. It found that there is a 40 percent increase in alcohol-related crash deaths and injuries. Only the New Year's period had a greater increase.
The special occasions examined in the study, in addition to Super Bowl Sunday, are St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo and Halloween. These periods are often regarded as having high rates of drinking and driving.
"In the hours leading up to the Super Bowl, there is no notable increase in DUI-related deaths and injuries, but that changes dramatically as the hour nears halftime," said study author Steven Bloch, Ph.D., senior research associate for the Auto Club. "For eleven hours, beginning at five in the evening, there is a 40 percent increase in alcohol-related crash fatalities and injuries."
Bloch added that in terms of holidays and special occasions, Super Bowl Sunday is of particular concern. "Not only is the increase in alcohol-related deaths and injuries high on this day, but with significant increases in eight of the nine years analyzed, the spikes in fatalities and injuries are a predictable phenomenon. Over the nine-year period the increase represents an additional 254 people killed or injured in alcohol-related crashes over what typically would be expected," he said.
The most dangerous time of the year is the New Year's period with a 44 percent increase in alcohol-related deaths and injuries at night. After Super Bowl Sunday, the Christmas period (26 percent), Veteran's Day (21 percent) and Memorial Day weekend (16 percent) ranked in the top five of nighttime DUI-related deaths and injuries.
The Auto Club advises that motorists can keep themselves and others safe and can avoid DUI crashes by keeping these safety tips in mind:
- At Super Bowl parties, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely.
- Call a friend or family member for a ride if you have been drinking.
- Keep a cab company telephone number in your wallet so you can call for a ride home.
- As a Super Bowl party host, offer a variety of non-alcoholic drink alternatives.
- Take the car keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink.
The study, entitled "Time to Party: A Comparative Analysis of Holiday Drinking and Driving," is available from the Auto Club.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at www.aaa-calif.com.