NASHVILLE, TN, Feb. 2, 2008 — The Tennessee Department of Transportation, Governor's Highway Safety Office (GHSO) and Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) have an important message for football fans: real Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk this Super Bowl weekend.
The agencies are teaming up with the Tennessee Titans and law enforcement agencies across the state to highlight the importance of calling the right play by designating a sober driver this weekend.
"It would be a true victory if no one lost their life on Tennessee roadways this weekend due to the careless actions of a drunk driver," said Governor Phil Bredesen. "The message is simple – if you drink, don't drive. If you do, chances are you'll get caught."
Representatives from the GHSO, THP, Tennessee Titans and Metropolitan Nashville Police Department held a sober driving Super Bowl "party" at LP Field in Nashville today to remind fans that law enforcement agencies across the state will be working overtime this weekend as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), National Football League (NFL), and Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) national campaign.
"If your game plan includes celebrating with alcohol – whether at the sports bar or house party - make sure you have a designated driver in your line-up," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "Designated drivers are the MVP's of any Super Bowl party and we are asking all party hosts and bar owners to give sober drivers the true MVP treatment this year for taking on such an important responsibility."
According to the Department of Safety, troopers made 48 DUI arrests during the 2007 Super Bowl weekend, nearly double the number of arrests from the previous year. There were four fatal accidents that weekend, three of which involved alcohol and/or drugs.
"Our goal is to have zero alcohol-related fatalities this Super Bowl weekend," added Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. "We'll be on the offensive, looking for impaired drivers who put themselves and other motorists in danger."
"Handing your keys to a sober driver or taking a cab will make you a winner, no matter the outcome of the game," stated Don MacLachlan, Titans Executive Vice President of Administration and Facilities. "We'll be cheering for everyone who chooses to drink responsibly this Super Bowl weekend."
Fortunately, football fans join millions of other Americans in doing "the ride thing." According to the 2007 Designated Driver poll conducted by Nielsen Media Research, 154 million Americans have been a designated driver or have been driven home by one.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Mike Walker reminded football fans of the consequences of drinking and driving. "In an instant, you can take someone's life or your own. A DUI conviction can also cost you enormous amounts of money and your freedom. If you decide to take that risk and drive impaired, you will be caught."
"We want everyone to make the right call for the Super Bowl by passing their keys to a sober driver," said GHSO Director Kendell Poole. "If you're hosting a party, make sure your celebration doesn't end in tragedy. Designate a sober driver and have phone numbers for local taxi services on hand for those who've had too much to drink."
Keys to the Game:
If you are hosting a Super Bowl Party:
• Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served alcohol ends up in an impaired driving crash.
• Make sure all of your guests designate sober drivers in advance, or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers.
• Serve food and include a variety of non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
• Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game and begin serving coffee and dessert.
• Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys from anyone who considers driving while impaired.
If you are attending a Super Bowl party or watching the game at a sports bar or restaurant:
• Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself – eat enough food, take breaks and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
• Designate your sober driver before the party begins and give that person your car keys.
• If you don't have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to pick you up; or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
• Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired. Remember, Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk.
• Always buckle up – it's still your best defense against other impaired drivers.
NFL's Season-Long Commitment to Community & Traffic Safety
The Super Bowl effort is part of the NFL-TEAM-RADD's season-long Responsibility Has Its Rewards designated driver program at every NFL stadium nationwide, including the Tennessee Titans'. Fans who pledged to be designated drivers at NFL games were eligible to enter a drawing to be selected as the team's designated driver for the season. The designated drivers selected from the teams that are competing in the Super Bowl received two tickets, airfare and hotel accommodations to attend the big game. In addition, one designated driver from an NFL team that does not play in the Super Bowl will be randomly chosen to attend the 2008 NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii.