Plan Ahead For A Safe Super Bowl

Don’t let the last game of the year be the last game of a life.

Deb Trombley is a Senior Program Manager for Transportation for the National Safety Council.

​History suggests that Sunday's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will be the driving force behind festivities from coast to coast. Before last year's championship game, one survey found that more than 43 million people planned to host a Super Bowl party while another 70 million people expected to attend a party – and all of them need to get home safely at the end of the night.

A snack brand, Tostitos, took steps to raise attention about when people should stay off the road. The Frito-Lay brand created "alcohol sensor bags," packaging that includes a sensor capable of detecting the presence of alcohol on someone's breath; it lights up when alcohol is recognized and delivers a warning to not drive.

You might be surprised that a "no driving" warning would appear after detecting any alcohol, even a small amount. The risk is real. Impairment can begin with the first drink. Drivers are impaired well before hitting the 0.08 legal impaired driving limit. After the first drink, crash risk rises rapidly. By the time drivers reach 0.05, which is about two to three drinks within an hour for many people, the risk of crashing is 40% higher than if the driver were sober.

Even if you're a passenger, you need to be aware of your decisions after drinking. People who consumed only one drink were more likely to ride in a car with an impaired driver. This decision increased their risk of being involved in a crash as a passenger by almost four times.

Particular awareness needs to be directed in Atlanta and the New England region. A report released one year ago showed that while drinking rose across the nation during the big game, it skyrocketed in the communities of the two teams playing the game, with drinking violations more than quadrupling in those areas.

With this increased potential for impaired driving next weekend, NSC developed recommendations if you're hosting a party or if you're going somewhere else to watch the game. These tips include:

  • Select non-drinking designated drivers in advance
  • Take alternate travel options, like taxis, public transportation or ride sharing, when drinking
  • Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages to reduce the chance of impaired driving by guests.

So if you're going to partake in some Super Bowl socializing, take steps in advance to make sure that you and your family and friends get home safely. The end of the game shouldn't be the end of everything else.

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