Super Bowl Sunday is here, with California's own San Francisco 49ers facing off against the Baltimore Ravens at 3:30 p.m. PST. Fans across the state are filled with anticipation - and many are soon to be filled with a lot of booze.
Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Vincent Howard of HOWARD LAW understands that Americans last year spent more than $1 billion on beer in grocery and convenience stores in preparation for game day. That doesn't account for all the wine and liquor that was sold at those same locations, and it doesn't count the alcohol consumed at restaurants, bars, hotels and in stadiums across the country.
There is nothing wrong with this, but it's no coincidence that Super Bowl Sunday is also one of the most deadly days of the year in terms of motor vehicle accidents.
According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, crashes linked to alcohol are 75 percent higher on Super Bowl Sunday than on comparable Sundays in either January or February. That was based on a decade-long analysis the club conducted of fatal and injury-causing crashes in the state between 2002 and 2011.
Despite all the awareness campaigns launched by everyone from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association to Mothers Against Drunk Driving to local law enforcement officials - the problem may actually be getting worse. Super Bowl events in general, club officials say, are becoming more pervasive and involve the consumption of more alcohol than ever before.
It's not exactly clear why that is. The Super Bowl has always been something of an unofficial American holiday, though we wonder if these difficult economic times may be contributing to peoples' greater desire to escape and find camaraderie in a shared pleasure.
Of course, this can be a good thing - but fans need to do it responsibly.
In Los Angeles County, Super Bowl Sunday DUI crashes were 55 percent higher than on an average weekend day.
Research shows that home states of winning teams actually have far lower rates of DUI crashes than those of losing teams (a 6 percent increase compared to 70 percent, per the 2003 study conducted by the University of Toronto) - giving us all the more reason to cross our fingers for the 49ers.
That same study found that while DUI crashes actually dropped about 10 percent throughout the duration of the game, the hour immediately after the game ends is the most fatal.
Throughout the country, nearly 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in all of 2011. These crashes accounted for more than 30 percent of all traffic deaths throughout the year.
If you're heading out to a Super Bowl party this afternoon, make sure you have a designated driver and pace your own drinking so your judgment won't be clouded into thinking you can safely get behind the wheel afterward.
Super Bowl party hosts need to ensure they have lots of filling food on hand, as well as more than enough non-alcoholic drinks to offer guests. As Beyonce is belting out her halftime show, start slowing down on the alcohol service. Cut it off completely by the end of the third quarter - just like they do in the stadium. If a guest is too drunk to drive home, take their keys and either find another ride for them or offer to have them stay the night.
Remember that you too could be held liable if a guest to whom you served alcohol is later involved in a serious accident - especially if that individual is under the age of 21.
Have fun. Drink responsibly.
Contact Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney VINCENT HOWARD at HOWARD LAW toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or send us a message online.
Auto Club says Sunday is the Super Bowl of drunk-driving crashes, Jan. 30, 2013, By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
California Traffic Safety: A Look at Our Report Card, Jan. 23, 2013, Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Blog