As folks get ready to watch the Super Bowl on television this Sunday in the U.S., many of us will be joining or attending Super Bowl viewing parties. If you’re like most Americans, you’ll probably drive to get to that party.
But unlike most Sundays, when you drive this Sunday coming home from your Super Bowl Party, be especially careful. Why?
Because unlike other Sundays when a football game is televised, researchers found that both non-fatal and fatal car accidents increase 41 percent on average. The risk is highest within an hour of the game’s end, when most people are driving home.
What causes this rise in automobile accidents? Not surprising, alcohol was involved in most fatal injury accidents, as well as a majority of non-fatal accidents. Inattention and fatigue are two additional factors implicated.
Researchers (Redelmeier & Stewart, 2003) examined 27 consecutive Super Bowl games from 1975 to 2001, and then looked at motor vehicle crash data for those same years. They examined accident rates before, during, and after the Super Bowl game, as well as a sample of control Sundays earlier in the year to see if the effect also carried over to normal football games.
We observed a 41 percent relative increase in the average number of fatalities after the telecast. In contrast, we observed no significant difference between Super Bowl Sundays and control Sundays in fatalities before the telecast. […]
The increase in fatalities after the telecast was evident for 21 of 27 years and amounted to about seven added deaths on the average Super Bowl Sunday as compared with the average control Sunday.
Fatal injuries were largest in states who had a losing team, versus those who had a winning team or had no team in the Super Bowl.
And the results are larger than those for other popular holidays where large amounts of alcohol may be consumed:
The 41 percent relative increase in fatalities after the Super Bowl telecast exceeds the relative increase in fatalities on New Year’s Eve that has prevailed for the past two decades in the United States.
Be careful and especially attentive driving home this Super Bowl Sunday if you’re attending a Super Bowl party, or just watching the game with some friends or family members. Especially if you’re in the losing team’s state. Designate a driver beforehand, and drive defensively.
And of course, enjoy the game. Go Pats!
Redelmeier, D.A. & Stewart, C.L. (2003). Driving Fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday. New England Journal of Medicine.