State offers sobering facts on alcohol-related crashes during game day

State offers sobering facts on alcohol-related crashes during game day

If you're planning on attending a football game this season, you might want to wait until you get home to pop open that celebratory or consolation beer.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, alcohol-related crashes increase when Texas college or professional football teams play. And the trend shows an upward swing from 2011 to 2013.

In 2013, more than 1,743 DUI-alcohol crashes across the state on game days when a college or professional football team stormed the gridiron. This number is a 7 percent increase from 2012, when 1,626 DUI-alcohol related crashes occurred. DUI-alcohol traffic fatalities also increased in 2012 by 27 percent — from 45 deaths in 2011 to 57 deaths in 2012.

In 2013, 41 people were killed because of drinking and driving on football game days.

The facts are sobering.

"We strongly urge football fans and their drivers to make sure a sober ride is part of their game-day ritual," TxDOT Executive Director Lt. Gen. Joe Weber said.Now, TxDOT is urging fans to make a game plan prior to kickoff with new initiatives to combat the issue. Hoping to serve up a sobering message, the department has developed the 2014-15 Football Season Impaired Driving Campaign and TxDOT's Fan Van will be joining tailgating celebrations, visiting college and pro football games.

The fan van is a football-shaped vehicle that is staffed and designed to educate fans about the consequences of drinking and driving. To help spread this message, van will be traveling throughout Texas until January to remind football fans about the consequences of drinking and driving. Saturday, the van will be at the Stephen F. Austin State University game in Nacogdoches.

Visitors who swing by the van and pledge not drink and drive this football season, will be entered into a contest to win a trip to the 2016 Super Bowl near San Francisco. Find out more about the contest here.

"Driving impaired is absolutely inexcusable and 100 percent avoidable. Don't wreck your life or the life of another," Weber said.

During the February 2013 Super Bowl, there were 112 DUI-alcohol traffic crashes in Texas, resulting in 39 serious injuries and four fatalities over a 24-hour period. Compared with the 2012 Super Bowl, those crashes represented a 12-percent increase in DUI-alcohol crashes in Texas.

"Football is a huge part of Texas culture and TxDOT wants to encourage fans to enjoy the big games, but to be responsible when it comes to game-day drinking," the department said this month in a statement.

TxDOT is urging people who have been drinking to take a taxi, use public transit or designate a sober driver — someone who has not been drinking. TxDOT's, which is mobile-friendly, provides options for getting home safely by letting users enter their current location and an end destination.

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