Football season had officially begun! College teams kicked off this past weekend and last night the Dallas Cowboys defeated last year's super bowl champs the New York Giants. Our own Carolina Panthers will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday for the season opener.
This is the time of year that many Americans look forward to with great anticipation and excitement. It is a time for tailgating, BBQs, and Monday nights in front of the big screen at your favorite sports bar. And the one thing that goes best with all of these great American past times is a giant refreshing beer. Multitudes of football fanatics cheering on the home team with numerous libations sound like a great time, but can it be a recipe for disaster if safety precautions are not taken.
A University of Toronto study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there is an average 41% increase in fatalities during and after Super Bowl Sunday broadcasts over the course of 27 years. A similar study by the University of Colorado found a 13% increase in impaired driving arrests associated with college football home games. Clearly, football game days are among the heaviest days for alcohol consumption.
Everyone should know the dangers of drinking and driving. Impaired drivers risk killing, disabling, disfiguring, and injuring themselves and others – sometimes their own friends and family. However, the statistics show that even though most people are aware of the dangers, many are still choosing to put themselves and others in danger.
There are several simple tips you can follow to make sure you enjoy the football season and keep everyone safe:
- If you know you will be drinking, plan in advance. Make arrangements for a designated driver, or plan on calling a cab.
- If you are impaired, do not drive – call a taxi, use mass transit, or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely or simply stay where you are.
- If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and find them a sober ride.
- Promptly report impaired drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement.
- If drinking outside during the day, be very aware of your bodily cues. Drinking in hot weather can be extremely dangerous, so be sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated.
- If you plan to host a football viewing party, be sure to provide lots of snacks and non-alcoholic beverages for your guests to stagger their alcoholic drinks with.
- Consider setting up a season “designated driver” schedule to distribute responsibility among your friends.
In an attempt to raise awareness about this apparent danger, MADD and the National Football League are partnering to remind fans to “play the most important position in the NFL-the designated driver!” Through this partnership, MADD members will attend select NFL football games this fall, provide information at MADD-branded booths, as well as circulate through the parking lots promoting the message of the importance of designating a sober driver before the game begins. This is a great program that reaches out to fans directly and creates awareness of this very real problem and hopefully reduces game day, sports-related drinking and driving behavior.