Road Safety Tips for Superbowl Sunday
“Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk” is the Superbowl Sunday-related safety message being shared with the public by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and allied agencies. The DOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Region 7 Office — with support from the National Football League (NFL) and Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition, and local highway safety and law enforcement officials — seek to prevent drunk drivers from taking the wheel on Sunday, the day of the most popular sporting event in the US, according to an NHTSA press release, “Designated Drivers Should Always Start.”
The DOT, NFL, and related partners have suggestions for ways that Superbowl fans can have a safe time celebrating. At the top of the list is that fans should designate a sober driver before the activities kick off, whether they are attending an event, hosting a game-watching party at home, or hanging at a sports bar.
Occupational Health and Safety reports that the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety advises that designated drivers be well rested “and prepared to drive any distance that is required to get their impaired passengers home safely.” As Amber Ruch writes for KFVS12.com, in 2010, driving fatalities related to drunk driving accounted for 31% of all motor vehicle traffic deaths in the U.S.:
‘This message is for everyone who will be drinking during the big game. Make the right play and pass your keys to a designated driver so they can get you home safely,’ said Romell Cooks, Regional Administrator, NHTSA Region 7. ‘On Super Bowl Sunday, make it a team effort to keep yourselves and your loved ones safe. If you plan on driving, do not drink alcohol.’
One Cleveland, Ohio, area community’s plans might inspire other communities to do something similar. The Solon and Moreland Hills, Ohio, police are making a Superbowl party kit available to party hosts while supplies last, writes Joan Rusek, Sun News, for Cleveland.com. The kits, also sponsored by the Cuyahoga County Safe Communities Coalition, include a football-shaped bowl that party guests can put their car keys into, a recipe guide with great non-alcoholic drinks, ice drink coasters, a $5 gift card for a local business, and a $5 taxi voucher.
The article suggests that in addition to providing non-alcoholic drinks, party hosts “avoid mixing alcohol with carbonated beverages because carbonation increases the speed that the body absorbs alcohol.” Rusek writes:
Stop serving alcohol two hours before the party is over, but continue serving non-alcoholic drinks and food. Be aware this two-hour wait is not enough time for most people to clear all the alcohol from their system. […]
‘Remember, someone does not have to be heavily intoxicated to be impaired — impairment can begin with the first drink,’ [Solon Police Sgt. Jamey] Hofmann said. “Driving skills and abilities are impaired in most people long before they exhibit visible signs of drunkenness.’
DOT provides the following tips for party hosts:
Find unique ways to recognize the designated drivers at your party:
- Give them a great spot to watch the game.
- Make sure their glass is always filled with the non-alcoholic beverage of their choice.
- Let them be first in line at the buffet table.
- Make sure their cars are easy to access when it is time to start driving people home.
- Serve plenty of food.
- Offer a variety of non-alcoholic choices like soft drinks, juice, and water.
- Serve one alcoholic drink at a time and serve measured drinks.
- Only serve alcohol to guests over 21 years of age.
- Determine ahead of time when you’ll stop serving alcohol, such as one hour before the party ends or at the end of the third quarter (just like NFL stadiums) and begin serving coffee and dessert.
- Program the numbers of local cab companies into your phone so they are just one touch away.
- Be prepared for guests to spend the night if a safe way home is not available.
- Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving car accident.
DOT tips for people attending parties or watching the Superbowl at a restaurant or bar include:
- Designate your sober driver before the party begins.
- If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you; or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
- Always buckle up — it’s the best defense against drunk drivers.
Image by USDOT | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, used under Fair Use: Reporting.