Multiple advocacy groups, as well as the Virginia State Police are warning football fans about drunk driving after the Super Bowl
RICHMOND — To many Americans, Super Bowl Sunday means football, partying and plenty to eat and drink. For the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, it means an increase in traffic deaths caused by drunken driving.
From 2011 through 2015, according to federal data, 37 percent of all fatal crashes on the day of and morning after the Super Bowl involve driving under the influence.
“With over a third of all U.S. traffic deaths being caused by drunk drivers during Super Bowl Sunday, it’s important to have a game plan to beat this opponent,” said Kurt Gregory Erickson, president of WRAP, a nonprofit group that advocates safe driving.
WRAP has a list of tips to prevent drunk driving. It includes assigning a designated driver, using a taxi or ride-sharing service, drinking and serving non-alcoholic beverages, and wearing your seat belt.
“Wearing a seat belt may not be widely viewed as a tool in this effort, but the wearing of a seat belt may be your best defense against a drunk driver,” Erickson said. “The routine wearing of seat belts is the single most effective measure to reduce crash related deaths and injuries.”
The Falls Church-based organization also encourages people to report suspected drunken drivers they see to the police. Dialing “#77” on a mobile phone will connect you to the Virginia State Police.
The Virginia State Police are also urging party-goers to be careful, and announced their own initiatives to keep citizens safe. The force is gearing up to conduct its own “Trooper Bowl” traffic safety enforcement campaign in conjunction with Super Bowl LII. Trooper Bowl will be conducted across the metro Richmond area from 4 p.m. Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 5) through 2 a.m. Monday (Feb. 6). Virginia State Police will increase their manpower and patrols in order to safeguard area interstates from impaired and reckless drivers.
“Super Bowl Sunday is a day of celebration, but we want to remind fans enjoying the big game to celebrate safely and responsibly,” said Capt. Steven L. Chumley, Virginia State Police Richmond Division Commander. “Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is never a smart play, which is why our troopers will be out specifically patrolling for impaired drivers.”
On average, during a single football game, three people will die as a result of drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2015, 10,265 people nationwide lost their lives in drunk driving crashes. The Virginia State police released advice for those watching the game away from their home. If you plan to drink, then plan to get home safely: Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk—or worse, the risk of having a crash. If you will be drinking, make a plan ahead of time. Designate a sober driver before the party begins. If you have been drinking, do not drive. Call a taxi or rideshare service such as Lyft or Uber, phone a sober friend or family member, or just stay put.
Amelia Heymann of the Capital News Service contributed to this report