Traffic backs up on Interstate 5 after a crash involving an alleged drunk… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)
Be careful driving Sunday – it’s the Super Bowl of drunk-driving car accidents.
Alcohol-related car crashes are 75% greater in California on Super Bowl Sunday than on other comparable Sundays in January and February, according to a 10-year analysis of fatal and injury crashes from 2002 to 2011 by the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Super Bowl events, from home parties at which large amounts of alcohol are served to special theme promotions at restaurants and sports bars, have grown significantly, the auto club said.
“That appears to have caused the day to become even more dangerous on the road in recent years,” said Steve Bloch, an Auto Club senior researcher.
The accident rate in the AAA’s latest study represents a substantial increase compared to the organization's 2004 study of Super Bowl Sunday crashes.
That study examined California data for the years 1994 to 2002 and found alcohol-related crashes involving fatalities and injuries increased 41% on game day. Both studies excluded January and February holiday periods from the analysis -- New Year’s, Presidents Day and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
There were 642 alcohol-related fatal crashes on Super Bowl Sunday during the 2002-2011 period, according to the Auto Club analysis. 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, AAA said.
“In other words, 28 more alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes occur annually in California due to drinking and driving on Super Bowl Sunday,” Bloch said. “And the data seem to be fairly consistent from year to year.”
In Los Angeles County, the data shows that were 55% more fatal and injury DUI crashes on Super Bowl Sunday than would have been expected during the 2002-2011 period.
Overall, 9,878 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in all of 2011, according to federal data. Such accidents accounted for 31% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the U.S.
Alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was almost twice as high during the weekend as on weekdays and about four times higher at night than during the day.
The Auto Club offered some tips for party hosts who want to ensure their guests make it home without incident:
- Take car keys from partygoers as they arrive and don’t let them drive drunk.
- As a host, serve food and non-alcoholic drinks. 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. Offer more food, coffee and desserts to party guests.
- Partygoers should include a designated driver in their group or use a taxi service.