How to drive safe during Pittsburgh football season

How to Drive Safe this Football Season

Pennsylvania has a rich football tradition. Friday evenings during the Fall, high school football games are the main gathering spot in cities and towns across the state. Here in Pittsburgh, our Steelers have won 6 Super Bowl championships, and each year we get behind them with fresh hope that they will bring us another one. On the collegiate level, our Penn State Nittany Lions have had 13 undefeated seasons in their storied history, and they have won 7 national championships.

Fall and football go hand in hand here in Pennsylvania, making autumn a favorite season for many. There is nothing like watching the games on a cool, crisp day or evening while enjoying the beauty of the fall colors, the smell of burgers on the grill, and the memorable moments spent with family and friends.

Watching the game (whether tailgating and seeing the game live or watching it on TV) often includes drinking alcohol as well. And for those who regularly watch football games, this can result in many hours of drinking.

Unfortunately, some choose to get behind the wheel after drinking too much, and this puts themselves and other people on the road in danger. Because drunk driving accidents tend to rise during this time of the year, it is important to remember how alcohol affects driving and to always assign a designated driver.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 30 people each day are the victims of fatal accidents due to drunk driving, and operating a vehicle after drinking while watching a football game increases the chances of a crash. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for anyone to drive if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, but even if you are below the legal limit, any amount of alcohol can begin to inhibit one’s ability to drive.

Some of the early effects of alcohol include a lapse in judgment, less alertness, difficulty focusing eyes and reduced coordination. When someone is over the legal limit, more pronounced effects include a lowered ability to brake in a timely manner, loss of speed control and difficulty controlling the vehicle.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) works with the NFL to promote safe and sober driving. Volunteers attend games and encourage the use of a designated driver, and other prevention strategies include game day initiatives and awareness programs. Specific NFL teams also participate in community events to help increase awareness and inspire fans to make responsible decisions such as to use public transportation or rideshare programs.

Ways to Encourage Safe Driving During the Football Season

Alcohol and driving do not mix, and we all must do our part to ensure that we keep ourselves and those we care about safe during the football season. Here are some tips for accomplishing this:

Create a Plan before Gathering to Watch the Game

A lot of tragic accidents can be prevented by simply having a plan beforehand that everyone understands and follows. All too often, people fail to communicate about how to deal with alcohol if it is present at a gathering, especially as it pertains to driving. If you know that there are going to be adult beverages consumed when you gather to watch the game, be the one to broach the subject and come up with a plan that gets everybody home safely.

Appoint a Designated Driver

As we talked about earlier, having a designated driver who is committed to not consuming alcohol during the gathering is the best way for everyone to stay safe. If someone is willing to stay sober and drive, the ride is free, and everyone gets home safely.

Call a Friend, Cab or Uber if No One Can Drive

If the person who drove consumes alcohol and there is no one who is sober and available to drive people home, then plan to have someone pick people up. This could be a friend who is not at the gathering but is willing to come and get you, or maybe you will have to spend a little money and get a cab or rideshare service to come. Either way, have a plan to have a sober driver take you home.

Plan to Spend the Night

This is a good option if your gathering is a considerable distance from your home. Maybe instead of arranging transportation, you can crash at a friend’s house or get a cheap hotel/motel room. This allows you to sleep off the alcohol while saving you the trouble of trying to get home if you are planning to drink.

Don’t be Afraid of an Uncomfortable Conversation

There might be times when other people at the gathering downplay the importance of avoiding drunk driving. This is one of effect that alcohol has on some people – they exercised poor judgment and insist that they are “okay” to drive. When this is the case, you might have to confront someone and explain that they cannot drive after drinking under any circumstances. While this conversation might be uncomfortable, a little discomfort is far better than allowing this person to put people’s lives at risk.

Recruit Others to Support Your Stand

If you are not making progress getting through to someone who is drunk and wants to drive, bring other people into the conversation to support what you are saying. Saying “no” to several people is much more difficult than saying “no” to just you.

Get the Keys Out of the Hands of a Drunk Driver

If all else fails, look for an opportunity to grab the car keys from the person who is inebriated. If you have their keys, they will be physically prevented from driving the car, which should make them far more open to alternative ways of getting home.

Call the Police

If you are not able to get the keys and they are determined to drive, you might need to call the police as a last resort option. The first step is to talk to the police on the phone and ask for advice with your friend listening. This way, your friend will know that the police are aware of what he/she intends to do. If that doesn’t convince them, then the police may need to come over and physically prevent this person from driving.

Enjoy the Excitement of Pennsylvania Football

We at Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman hope you have a safe and enjoyable football season. And BTW, go Steelers! If you do happen to get injured this season because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, we are here to help. Message us online or call our office at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 to set up a free consultation with a member of our legal team.