RALEIGH, N.C. — A Canadian study published in the
New England Journal of Medicine
finds that traffic crashes increase following the Super Bowl.
In his January 2003 report, Dr. Donald Redelmeier of Toronto examined crashes that immediately followed the previous 27 Super Bowls. He found that such incidents occurred at a higher rate than both regular Sunday football games and with the times before and during the big game.
In fact, Redelmeier found a 41-percent relative increase in the average number of fatalities across the United States after the telecast, which he said exceeds the relative increase in fatalities on New Year's Eve during the past two decades.
"There is a clear message here for anyone who plans to celebrate when they watch the Super Bowl," said Darrell Jernigan, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "Whether you're enjoying the game at home, at a party, or at a bar, be responsible. If you plan to drink, also plan to have a designated driver."
Redelmeier found that the majority of post-Super Bowl crashes involve young men affected by alcohol, inattention, and/or fatigue.
Not surprisingly, this is the same demographic that typically accounts for the highest number of unrestrained and alcohol-related crashes, both in North Carolina and across the nation.
The study also found that the rate of serious and fatal-injury traffic crashes was lower in states where the winning team was located. This effect was not necessarily attributed to compliance with traffic safety laws, but rather what one published report termed a "winner mood."
On Thursday, a majority of online oddsmakers made the New England Patriots a 6.5-point favorite over the Carolina Panthers. The
observed that the "underdog" team has won the Super Bowl the past two years and that the Panthers could make it three in a row this year.
If the Panthers win or lose, state and local law enforcement officers across North Carolina will be on high alert Sunday for impaired or otherwise dangerous drivers.
"The entire HITS unit will be on duty all day Sunday, and we will be joined by the State Highway Patrol and others," said Capt. David Haggist, who oversees the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Highway Interdiction Traffic Safety (HITS) unit. "If someone chooses to drive while impaired, or breaks other traffic safety laws, we will be there to stop them."