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Why Traffic Deaths Spike on Super Bowl Sundays & How to Stay Safe

Why Traffic Deaths Spike on Super Bowl Sundays & How to Stay Safe

Nearly Half of All Super Bowl Traffic Deaths Involve Alcohol, Data Shows

Super Bowl Sunday ends in disaster far too often on the roads. In fact, year after year, traffic deaths surge on Super Bowl Sunday. Tragically, driver impairment is a factor in most of these wrecks, authorities say.

That’s why federal and state regulators nationwide are joining forces to encourage safe, responsible driving choices this year and after every Super Bowl going forward.

It’s also why we’re sharing more about:

Share this information with those who you care about to help get the word out and promote safe driving choices and behaviors this Super Bowl Sunday.

A Closer Look at Super Bowl Sunday Traffic Deaths & Dangers

Data from the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) and other authorities spotlight just how life-threatening the roads can be on Super Bowl Sunday.

Holiday CrashesIn fact, regulators and researchers have found that when it comes to Super Bowl traffic accidents and deaths:

  • Right after the Super Bowl telecast, the traffic death rate typically spikes by ~41% to 46%. That’s higher than the fatality rate associated with the period right after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.
  • An average of 20 traffic deaths occur every hour for the 12 hours following the big game.
  • The traffic death rate tends to be highest in the home state of the losing team versus the winning team (and states not involved in the Super Bowl at all).
  • Regionally, most deadly traffic accidents on Super Bowl Sundays occur in the Northeast U.S., followed by the Midwest.
  • During a given year, alcohol impairment tends to factor into nearly 1 in every 3 fatal motor vehicle accidents. On Super Bowl Sundays, there’s usually about a 50:50 shot at alcohol involvement contributing to traffic deaths.

Why Do Traffic Fatalities Increase on Super Bowl Sundays?

Researchers say that traffic deaths usually increase sharply on Super Bowl Sundays for three reasons:

  1. More drunk drivers: More motorists seem to make the dangerous choice to drive after drinking on Super Bowl Sundays. While there’s no in-depth reporting on blood alcohol levels and how those may vary by time of day (or type of wreck), there’s also no denying that alcohol, poor choices, and life-ending wrecks can all go hand in hand — especially during NFL championships.
  2. More fatigued drivers: Motorists hitting the roads after the big game are far more likely to be tired, driving at the very end of a long, action-packed day. That can mean greater risks of fatigue-related impairments. And those can start creeping up and degrading sober drivers’ abilities to safely operate vehicles within 17 to 24 hours of zero sleep, authorities report.
  3. More distracted drivers: Motorists listening to the game, calling friends for directions, or otherwise not paying attention behind the wheel can also contribute to deadly crashes on Super Bowl Sunday. With more traffic congestion and impaired drivers on the roads, it may not take all that much to cause collisions and traffic deaths.  

While these aren’t the only reasons for deadly Super Bowl traffic accidents, they’re causing the lion’s share of these deaths — and they are all 100% preventable, with a little forethought and a simple plan for enjoying yourself safely, whatever your plans involve.

How to Stay Safe on the Roads Super Bowl Sunday & During Any Holiday

The statistics on Super Bowl Sunday traffic accidents can be rattling, but they won’t protect you when you’re on the roads, where there’s a real potential for danger at any turn.

These simple safety tips can help you, though. So, if you’ll be driving on Super Bowl Sunday:

  1. Stay sober: It’s no secret drinking and driving don’t mix, but many people make the mistake of thinking things like, I’ve just had a few, and I’m only buzzed. I’m FINE to drive. (or I drive better when I’m buzzed!). Only drive if you’re sober.
  2. Drive a little extra defensively: Stay as alert to the roads and the motorists around you as possible. Make sure to leave a little extra room between your vehicle and others; that includes passenger vehicle drivers, Amazon delivery drivers, and anyone else you’re sharing the roads with. Also, be sure you’re following the rules of the road to a tee.
  3. Expect other drivers to be impaired: Don’t assume you’re sharing the road with sober motorists. Instead, it’s safer to assume the opposite so that you’re anticipating the wrong moves others may make — and so you can remain as responsive as possible at all times.
  4. Know when to call it quits: Even if you’re sober, staying out late can increase the chances that you’ll run into impaired motorists on the roads. It can also mean you’re more fatigued and possibly not in the best shape to get behind the wheel. So, choose your “go home” time before you get to the party, and stick to it if you want to drive home. If you want to stay later, make plans to not drive home.

If you’ll be traveling on the roads (as a passenger or pedestrian) on Super Bowl Sunday:

  1. Follow the laws: Buckle up if you’re a passenger. It could save your life if another car hits the vehicle that you’re in (even if that’s a rideshare car, like an Uber). If you’re sharing the streets with vehicles as a pedestrian, remember, there are going to be close to half a million people in Vegas for the 2024 Super Bowl. That means a lot of other pedestrians and vehicles. So, stay on sidewalks, don’t jaywalk, and wait a little bit longer before you cross the street.
  2. Avoid being on the roads late: Just like drivers, passengers and pedestrians can see their crash risks soar if they’re out on the roads later at night (or in the wee hours of the morning). So, when at all possible, do your best to avoid driving around after the party’s over. That can mean not making extra stops, so you’re not taking the long way to get from Point A to Point B.
  3. Don’t take risks: If you’re ever unsure about what to do, always err on the side of caution, even if that means leaving your vehicle somewhere for an evening or finding a safe place to stay close to the party.

No matter who you’re rooting for in this year’s Super Bowl — and regardless of when you’re celebrating away from home — your choices can do a lot to protect you. So can an experienced car accident attorney if you’re ever hurt on the roads of Houston, Fort Bend County, Austin, Lakeway, Bee Cave, and elsewhere in the Lone Star State.