These are the Most Dangerous Days & Times to Drive Super Bowl Weekend

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Ben Guess
Updated on Jun 27, 2022 · 3 min read
Key Insights
  • The most dangerous time to drive on Super Bowl Sunday is from 6-7 p.m., followed by 10-11 p.m.
  • On Super Bowl Sunday, 42% of fatal crashes involve drivers with a BAC (blood alcohol content) above the legal limit of 0.08 g/dL, a higher percentage than on all other Sundays in February.
  • Surprisingly, the average number of fatal crashes on the Saturday before the Super Bowl is 7.84% higher than the average number of crashes on game day.

Going out on Super Bowl Sunday? Avoid driving at these times

The two biggest spikes in fatal crashes on Super Bowl Sunday occur from 6-7 p.m. with an average of 104 fatal crashes, and 10-11 p.m. with an average of 95 fatal crashes
The Super Bowl starts at 6:30 p.m. EST, right in the middle of the 6-7 p.m. crash spike. Many Americans may be driving to Super Bowl parties around this time, contributing to an increase in traffic and higher likelihood of crashes. 
Later in the night, there is another spike in crashes from 10-11 p.m., around when the game usually ends. This second spike may be related to tired and drunk drivers getting behind the wheel after watching the game at a party or bar. Increased traffic paired with drunk or tired drivers likely leads to increased crashes.

Drunk driving has fatal consequences Super Bowl weekend

On Super Bowl Sunday, 42% of fatal crashes involve drivers with a BAC above the federal legal limit of 0.08 g/dL. This is 1% higher than other Sundays in February, a difference of hundreds of lives. This is also higher than the Saturday prior (41% of fatal crashes) and the Monday following (25%). Many Americans spend the post-Super Bowl hours celebrating a win or mourning a loss over drinks with friends. This leads to an increase in drinking and driving, and therefore alcohol-involved fatal crashes on Sunday and early Monday.
On the Monday after the Super Bowl, about 25% of drivers involved in fatal crashes had a BAC above 0.08 g/dL. This is 2% higher than other Mondays in February. Super Bowl celebrations can last late into the night and early morning hours of the next day. BAC can remain high until your liver has time to process it—so drivers might be driving with an elevated BAC even after a few hours of sleep, confusing their buzz for tiredness.

Saturday is a bigger day for crashes than game day

Super Bowl Sunday is a big day for football and drinking—
one article
estimates that 325.5 million gallons of beer are consumed on game day. Interestingly, our analysis found that the total number of fatal crashes on Saturdays preceding the Super Bowl (1,391) is 7.84% higher than the number of crashes on Superbowl (1,282).
Super Bowl weekend is surrounded by celebration and excitement. This may contribute to higher crash rates the Saturday night before if football fans are celebrating and drinking in anticipation of the game. Whatever the reason, the data shows that more fatal crashes occur on the Saturday than Sunday of Super Bowl weekend.

Conclusion

Super Bowl Sunday and its prior Saturday are dangerous days for drivers. With a spike in drinking and traffic, there are 7.84% more fatal crashes on the Saturday prior to Super Bowl Sunday than Super Bowl Sunday itself. However, if you are driving on game day, the most dangerous times to drive are between 6-7 p.m. and 10-11 p.m.  
While driving on nights involving celebrations, alcohol, and partying into the early hours of the morning always carry a slight risk, there are ways to stay safe. Choosing a safe time to leave a celebration, having a designated driver, and getting a good night of sleep on days when you expect to drive late at night can help you get home safe after a night of fun. As long as you make wise choices and keep both eyes on the road, your Super Bowl celebration can remain a night spent cheering on your favorite team and spending time with friends.

Methodology

Jerry used crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over Super Bowl weekends (Saturday through Monday) from 2005-2019 to examine fatal crashes around the Super Bowl.

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