PDT Staff Writer
Feb. 1 is Super Bowl Sunday and highway safety agencies are urging Super Bowl partyers to remember, while it’s a great sports event, it has historically led to the practice of drinking and driving.
“It happens,” said Ohio State Highway Patrol Portsmouth Post Commander Lt. Mike Crispen. “Probably every bit as much as the New Year’s Eve party does now with sports fans to some degree.
“I don’t see much change in (operating a vehicle while intoxicated) OVI or alcohol or drug-related crashes or arrests that are any different from the New Year’s Eve holiday.”
Crispen said at holidays such as New Year’s Eve, the media spends a considerable amount of time educating the public as to the dangers of drinking and driving.
“The Super Bowl has sort of been skipped in that category,” Crispen said. “And as a result of that they do come out more often than they do New Year’s Eve.”
Crispen said the troopers are well-aware of the circumstances that bring a higher amount of drunk drivers out onto the highways.
“For that reason we do have officers who are aware of it and involved in a little heavier traffic enforcement looking for OVI arrests,” Crispen said. “And education leading into it, because the Super bowl is a big deal for a lot of sports fans, and associated with it is often a lot of drinking.”
According to the Ohio Traffic Safety Office, nationally in 2007 on Super Bowl Sunday, 48 percent of the fatalities occurred in crashes where a driver or motorcycle rider had a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher.
Ohio’s statistics for 2008 show that three people died and 92 people were injured in nearly 200 crashes that involved alcohol over the Super Bowl weekend.
“Driving safe and sober should always be a priority, but this weekend, with extra parties and events being planned, we are reminding everyone to pass their keys to a sober driver before the party begins,” ODPS Director Henry Guzman said. “Bars, establishments and those hosting parties should plan ahead as well as arrange ride-sharing, provide contact information for cab services and ensure no one is over-served.”
Ohio troopers reported 308 OVI arrests around the state for that same time period, and during the month of February 2008, law enforcement agencies reported 105 OVI arrests through enforcement hours paid for through through the ODPS’ Ohio Traffic Safety Office.
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101 Ext. 232.