DENVER (KDVR) — After a record year for Colorado traffic deaths, law enforcement is reminding the public: don’t take Super Bowl Sunday’s foamy fun behind the wheel.
Super Bowl Sunday is one of the busier drinking days on the U.S. calendar. Researchers in the food and beverage space estimate Americans drink a collective 326 million gallons of beer purchased at over $1 billion total.
With that advanced level of partying, it’s no surprise football’s final showdown also sees a spike in alcohol-related traffic crashes. This is worrisome for the state’s law enforcement given recent trends. Colorado’s traffic deaths are at a record high. In 2022, there were 745 traffic deaths, more than any year in the Colorado Department of Transportation’s records.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the number of traffic deaths is higher on Super Bowl Sunday than the Sundays before or after. The NTSB’s analysis accounts for the three Sundays bookending the Super Bowl from 2015 to 2019 between Sunday 6 p.m. and Monday 6 a.m.
In total, there were about 20% more traffic deaths on Super Bowl Sunday than either the Sunday before or after, 244, compared to 202 on the week before and 187 the week after.
It isn’t simply a matter of more traffic in general, either. The share of alcohol-related deaths is higher.
One-third of traffic deaths are alcohol-related in the weeks before and after the Super Bowl, which is roughly the national average. In the U.S., one-third of all traffic deaths are alcohol-related.
On the Super Bowl, however, nearly half, or 46% of traffic deaths, are alcohol-related.
This puts Super Bowl Sunday alongside other holidays with data-backed reputations for traffic deaths. Estimates vary, but one blood-alcohol tracking app recorded the same alcohol level in drivers measured on New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Valentine’s Day.
According to the analysis of some legal blogs, the Super Bowl has slightly fewer traffic deaths than Christmas Day, and a slightly higher share of them are alcohol-related.