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FROM THE SHERIFFíS DESK, Vol. 4, Nr 1
By Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp
In less than 3 weeks, one of the yearís most important sporting events will take place. February 2, 2014 will be Super Bowl Sunday, or as it is correctly identified, Super Bowl XLVIII. That means it is the 48th Super Bowl played in the series that began January 15, 1967. It is, far and away, the day that stands as the biggest event in North American sports. It scores the largest TV ratings, creates the greatest demand for tickets, and has just about become a national holiday.
It is broadcast to over 200 countries and had a viewership last year of over 111 million. It is the second largest day for U.S. food consumption, second only to Thanksgiving.
So naturally, that means there will be Super Bowl parties throughout the country. Family gatherings, social celebrations, TV get-togethers, and special theme promotions at restaurants and sports bars will draw millions of people to them.
Through all the excitement lies a large and growing problem for this otherwise wonderful occasion:
SUPER BOWL SUNDAY Ė ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS DRIVING DAYS IN THE YEAR
Huge numbers of these partygoers will be driving, and there will be large quantities of alcoholic beverages available for any and all that want them. The consequences of these factors are obvious.
The Automobile Club of Southern California reports that alcohol-related car crashes are 75% greater in California on Super Bowl Sunday than on other comparable Sundays in January and February. The data came from a 10-year analysis of fatal and injury crashes.
In Los Angeles County, the data show that there were 55% more fatal and injury DUI crashes on Super Bowl Sunday than would have been normally expected during a 9-year period.
Supporting evidence shows the role alcohol plays in these DUI accidents. Some states have various bans on Sunday packaged alcohol sales.
If a state ends such a ban, analysis of the motor vehicle accidents and fatalities, with and without the ban, can reach powerful conclusions.
New Mexico had such a development. The ban on Sunday packaged alcohol sales was ended. The increase in alcohol-related crashes was 29%; the number of after-the-ban alcohol-related crash fatalities on Sundays increased to an alarming 42%.
The conclusion is inescapable. Increasing the availability of alcohol leads to more usage, and that means drivers will crash and die more frequently.
In the case of Super Bowl Sunday drinking and crashes, the numbers of those participating are growing almost every year and throughout the country. Of course, as the national interest and activity levels grow dramatically each year, the crashes, and the fatalities, grow also.
The Auto Club offered some tips for party hosts who want to ensure that their guests make it home safely and without incident:
*Take car keys from partygoers as they arrive and donít let them drive drunk.
*As a host, serve food and non-alcoholic drinks. Serve protein rich and starchy foods to slow alcohol absorption.
*Do not serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.
*Stop serving alcohol in the 3rd quarter of the game. Offer more food, coffee, and desserts to party guests.
*Partygoers should include a designated driver in their group or use a taxi service.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has excellent safety tips for individual party-goers:
*Designate your sober driver or have an alternate transportation plan before the party begins.
*Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself. Eat enough food, take breaks and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
*If you donít have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home, call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you.
*Use you communityís sober ride program.
*Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive and have had too much to drink.
*ALWAYS buckle up. Itís still your best defense against other drunk drivers.
*Many local and national agencies will be adding extra enforcement on Super Bowl Sunday to combat drunk driving.
NHTSA also points out that there are many things we can do to minimize any car trouble at this time of year. Have your car inspected when necessary:
*Check your battery.
*Check your windshield wipers.
* Consider buying heavy-duty winter wipers.
*Familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go.
*Watch your speed. A slick spot in the roadís surface can put you in serious jeopardy.
*In an emergency, stay with your car and donít overexert yourself.
Please remember, before you drive to a Super Bowl Sunday event, review whatís been said here. It can greatly help to insure that your trip will be a safe and happy one, not only for yourself, but for everyone around you!
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