Thursday, January 23, 2003

Super Bowl loss increases car crashes

By The Associated Press

Automobile crashes climb more than 40 percent in the hours after the Super Bowl, with the surge highest in the losing team's territory, perhaps because heartbroken fans are not concentrating on their driving, researchers say.

In the first study to quantify the problem, researchers at the University of Toronto examined U.S. accident data from the last 27 Super Bowls.

They found that both fatal and nonfatal crashes increase after the football game, causing an average of seven additional deaths and 600 extra injuries.

The researchers theorized that drinking during the game, driver fatigue because of the late hour, and distraction and disappointment among drivers whose team lost all contribute to the rise in accidents.

"We think that it may be alcohol and fatigue and inattention, and in particular the sort of what-if conjectures and Monday morning quarterbacking that occurs" after the loss, said Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier, a professor of medicine who also works at Canada's largest trauma center.

The study was reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Redelmeier said he patched up some accident victims on Super Bowl Sundays while finishing his medical training at a California hospital in the 1980s.

"After the game was over, things became extremely hectic," said Redelmeier, who focuses his research on traffic safety.

So Redelmeier and one of his graduate students, football fan Craig Stewart, reviewed accident data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1975 through 2001 for the Sundays when the Super Bowl was played, as well as the previous and subsequent Sundays.

Compared with the adjacent Sundays, when weather and other conditions would presumably be the same, there was about a 41 percent increase in fatal accidents in the four hours or more after the game and about a 46 percent increase in nonfatal accidents.

"That 41 percent relative increase is larger than the New Year's Eve increase in the United States," Redelmeier said.

Redelmeier said the average number of people killed in crashes after the Super Bowl was 24, up from 17 on the comparison Sundays. Likewise, the number of people injured jumped to 1,900 from 1,300, and the number of crashes topped 4,000, up from nearly 3,000.

In states with the losing team, the number of crashes increased 68 percent after the telecast ended, while accidents rose only 6 percent in the winner's state. Accidents climbed 46 percent in the "neutral" states.

"It's clear that even the alcohol-negative people here have a reaction to it being the Super Bowl," said Stephanie Faul, spokeswoman for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "If you're replaying things in your head, you're not paying attention" to driving.

A surge in deaths was seen in 21 of the 27 years studied, and was largest in the first hour after the telecast ended. There was no shift in the rate of accidents before the kickoff, but a slight decrease during the game.

Redelmeier said drivers ought to pay more attention or avoid unnecessary driving on Super Bowl Sundays, and trauma centers ought to bring in extra staff for the big game.

Faul said Super Bowl fans who drink should plan ahead and use a designated driver or take a cab or public transportation.

If your team loses, "instead of saying, `Yuck' and going home, hang out a little bit and talk about it with your buds," she said. "Get it out of your system and sober up" before driving home.

On the Net:


Sources: Rose admits he bet on baseball
Rose, baseball official met last month

Bengals' new coach gets super raves
Civil rights lawyers applaud Bengals' coaching search
Washington assistant candidate for Bengals

DAUGHERTY: Early Bucs best at badness
Keyshawn compares self to Pete Rose
Super Bowl loss increases car crashes
Getting over the hump: Raiders, Bucs took different tacks
Al Davis may retire if Raiders win
Janikowski trying to put arrests, wild nights, behind him
Son's battle inspires Bucs receiver
Raiders wary of penalties
Practices closed to media

NASCAR gives Ky. hope for Winston Cup race

UC 59, East Carolina 53
UC shuts down ECU star
Prosser, Gillen friendly foes again
Kentucky 67, Auburn 51
No. 9 Louisville 71, DePaul 43
N.C. State 80, No. 3 Duke 71
Colorado 60, No. 6 Kansas 59
No. 1 Arizona 71, Arizona St. 63
Texas coach earns 800th victory

Serena rallies into final against Venus
Roddick claims instant classic
Australian Open Results

Jordan passes Wilt into No. 3
NBA's little man beats Lakers
Clippers, Grizzlies end extra long losing streaks

Princeton football coach retiring
Ohio Games: CHCA deals Seven Hills first loss
Ky. Girls Games: Lloyd too much for Bellevue
Wednesday's high school results
Today's high school schedule
Ohio boys basketball polls
Wrestling honor rolls
Ohio wrestling polls

Mighty Ducks 2, Cleveland 1
Marlins get Pudge for $10M
Sports on TV-Radio

Return to Bengals front page...