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Health & Balance

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Driving Deaths Up After Super Bowl

Don't Let the Post-Game Drive Home Be Your Last

WebMD Health News

Jan. 22, 2003 -- Don't forget to buckle up and drive defensively on your way home from that Super Bowl party on Sunday. Researchers say the telecast causes a post-game increase in driving fatalities and puts many inattentive, tired or drunk drivers at serious risk.

A new study in the Jan. 23 issue of TheNew England Journal of Medicine shows a 41% increase in driving-related deaths occurs each year after the annual Super Bowl telecast, which translates into an additional 1,300 car crashes, 600 injuries, and seven deaths over a normal Sunday night.

And it's even worse if you were cheering for a defeated home team. The study found an even larger increase in driving fatalities in states that were home to the losing team versus the home of the victors.

"For example, New York and Colorado have had the most losses over the last 27 years and showed a 147% increase in fatalities for the nine relevant years," says researcher Donald Redelmeier, MD, of the University of Toronto, in a news release. "In contrast, California has had the most wins and showed no significant increase for the eight years where they won the Super Bowl."

Researchers studied nearly 3,000 driving fatalities on consecutive Super Bowl Sundays from 1975 to 2001 and compared those rates to those found on the Sundays before and after the big game each year.

The study showed the driving dangers are strongest during the first hour after the game ends and exceeds the surge in risk seen with New Year's Eve. There was a similar increase in nonfatal injuries and accidents.

Researchers say people should avoid unnecessary driving on Super Bowl Sunday, and trauma centers might want to think about beefing up their staffs in anticipation of a post-game blitz.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 23, 2003 • News release, University of Toronto.

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