Make a plan, spare a life

Published 9:27 pm Friday, February 3, 2017

So you’ve got big plans for the big game tomorrow? Perhaps you’re headed to a sports bar for the experience of watching with a couple of hundred of your new best friends. Or maybe you’re going for a smaller gathering at a friend’s house.

In the first instance, be sure to take your wallet, because the celebration won’t be cheap. And if you’re headed to a friend’s Super Bowl party, be nice and bring along a contribution, even if it’s just a simple bag of nacho chips and a jar of salsa (mild, so everyone can enjoy it, please).

But wherever you go, if you’re headed out to celebrate America’s biggest sporting event of the year, have a plan for how you’ll get home if you intend to imbibe adult beverages. And make certain that plan will not in any way involve you driving yourself.

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A 2003 study of crashes in the United States by researchers at the University of Toronto revealed that accident rates spiked by 41 percent in the hours after the 27 preceding Super Bowls. The first hour after the game was over was the worst, with crash rates up 70 percent over the same time period on average Sundays.

A 2012 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 43 percent of all traffic fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday were caused by drunken drivers, compared to 31 percent for the rest of the year.

Even 31 percent is much too high a statistic, when one considers that it means nearly one in three highway fatalities could very likely have been avoided if someone had not made the fateful decision to take their car keys in hand at the end of a night — or day — of drinking.

But the Super Bowl Sunday numbers are even more startling — and perhaps the most so because so many people are on the roads that night, heading home from bars and parties where they’ve either chosen NOT to consume alcohol or arranged in advance for a ride home with a sober driver.

We don’t care whether you’re in the bag for Tom Brady and his New England crew or if you’re flying high with the Falcons. We just care that if you’re in the bag or flying high you’re not also behind the wheel.

Make a plan. Don’t drink and drive. The life you might be sparing matters to someone.