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The most dangerous place to be during Super Bowl 50 isn’t between the Denver Broncos’ star defense and Cam Newton—it’s out on the road.

For many people, alcohol and Super Bowl celebrations go hand-in-hand. In addition, research shows that men between the ages of 21 and 35 make up the highest percentage of drunk drivers—the same demographic that dominates NFL viewership.

These factors mean that drunk driving and alcohol-involved crashes spike during the game and in the hours after it ends. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 43% of all traffic fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday in 2012 were caused by drunk driving, compared to an average of 31% during the rest of the year.

States with a team in the game historically see biggest increases in drinking violations

While drunk driving and alcohol issues go up around the country on Super Sunday, data shows that the biggest spikes may happen in states and regions that have a team playing in the big game.

A recent analysis of people supervised with SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring—many of whom are repeat, high-risk drunk drivers who have been court-ordered not to drink—found that on average drinking violation rates in areas with a team in the Super Bowl were four times higher than the rest of the country. And in many cases, the violation rates were even much, much greater: When the Denver Broncos played in Super Bowl XLVIII, drinking violations for monitored offenders in that state jumped an astonishing 191% compared to the rest of the country.

Law enforcement agencies around the country are making plans to step up DUI enforcement next Sunday. In addition, NHTSA has launched it Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign to encourage people to make plans ahead of time that will prevent them from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

An infographic by Comedy Defensive Driving shows just how closely drinking is tied to the Super Bowl and provides some great tips to celebrate the big game responsibly.

The Downside of Super Bowl Sunday

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Alison Betts

Alison Betts

Alison Betts has over 15 years of experience as a communications professional and researcher in corporate, nonprofit, and high education settings. Betts joined AMS in 2013 and is currently a Senior Manager of Marketing & Public Relations. Prior to coming to AMS, she held research and teaching positions at universities in Arizona and Colorado. Betts has also served as a public relations professional and grant writer in the nonprofit sector, where she saw first-hand the devastating impact of alcohol and substance abuse on families and communities. Betts holds an MA in English from the University of Colorado and a Master’s in Applied Communications from the University of Denver.

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