The most dangerous place during Super Bowl LI likely won’t be out on the field at NRG Stadium—it will be out on the roads during and after the big game.
A new analysis shows that drinking violations by repeat drunk drivers ordered to stay sober jumps an average of 22% on Super Bowl Sunday, compared to usual Sunday violation rates. The data comes from 530,000 repeat DUI offenders supervised with continuous alcohol monitoring bracelets.
New England and Georgia could see biggest challenges
The analysis found that driving violations increased on nine of the last 11 Super Bowl Sundays. However, it turns out not all locales are equal. States and regions with a team in the game can see drinking violations that are double or even triple the norm.
For example, last time the Patriots made it to the big game in 2015 violations in New England were two times higher than the rest of the country on Super Bowl Sunday, and 103% higher than a usual Sunday in that region. And when the Denver Broncos played in Super Bowl 50, offenders in Colorado generated more than 13% of all violations on game day, even though they accounted for only 4.1% of the monitored offenders nationwide.
It also seems that winners may drink more than losers. On average, violations among offenders represented by the champions were almost 75% higher than among offenders represented by the opposing team.
Make plans for a safe Super Bowl Sunday
The majority of the monitored individuals are repeat drunk drivers who were court-ordered to stay sober, knew they were being monitored, and knew that there would be consequences, including jail time. The data is cause for concern because it suggests the rate of problematic drinking among those who aren’t being monitored could be much, much higher.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015 on average one American was killed in a drunk driving crash every 51 minutes. Alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities often spike on holidays and popular drinking days, like Super Bowl Sunday. NHTSA’s Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign encourages people to make plans ahead of time for a safe and sober ride home from their Super Bowl party:
- Check out NHTSA’s SaferRide app, which can connect you to a local cab company or with a sober friend.
- Sign-up for a ride-sharing service, like Uber or Lyft, before heading out for the night.
- Name designated drivers as your party’s MVPs for helping to get people home safely.