Special to the Journal
Atlanta, Ga — With excitement building for Super Bowl XLVII, Georgia law enforcement officials are taking part in a nationwide DUI crackdown and stepping up efforts to keep impaired drivers off the roads.
Additionally, officials with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety are encouraging fans to download a free smartphone application called “Drive Sober, Georgia” that can help them secure a sober ride on Super Bowl Sunday and make Georgia’s roads safer.
The recently revamped “Drive Sober, Georgia” app lists providers of free and paid rides in 10 cities across the state and in areas of metro Atlanta. The app also provides partiers in rural locations contact information for the AAA and Budweiser “Tow-to-Go” service, which is available on Super Bowl weekend and around major holidays.
Originally launched in 2011, the app has recently been updated using new technology that makes it easier to use than in the past. Two cities, Athens and Statesboro, have been added to the app’s directory of sober rides and contact information for service providers has also been updated.
The app is free and available to users of both Apple and Android devices.
“We don’t think there’s ever an excuse to drive impaired in Georgia,” Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said. “But, with this app, we know there won’t be an excuse to drive impaired, because most Georgians will have access to a safe ride home in the palm of their hands.”
GOHS-led awareness efforts, combined with law enforcement’s increased vigilance, are aimed at reducing the number of injuries and fatalities that occur on Georgia roads. These efforts are especially important in the lead-up to and aftermath of the Super Bowl game when the potential for DUI-related crashes is high.
Drunk-driving crashes made up nearly one-third of all fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2010 and resulted in 10,228 that year, according to statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Furthermore, the likelihood that a driver involved in a fatal crash is impaired by alcohol is almost twice as high during the weekend (31 percent) than on weekdays (16 percent), according to NHTSA.
While the “Drive Sober, Georgia” app can be used as a tool to keep impaired drivers off the road, the only full-proof plan to avoid getting flagged for DUI on Super Bowl Sunday is to recruit a sober driver ahead of your game day party.
“Before you take that first sip of that first cold beer on Feb. 3, take a minute to find a sober ride home,” Blackwood said. “If you don’t have a plan to avoid driving drunk, you can rest assured that your local law enforcement agency will have a plan to take you to jail.”
Below are several tips to keep you from getting tackled by a DUI arrest on Super Bowl Sunday:
If you’re attending a Super Bowl party or watching the game at a sports bar or restaurant:
- Designate your sober driver before the party begins.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself. Eat plenty of food, take breaks, and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
- If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you; or if possible stay where you are for the night and don’t drive until you are sober.
- Never let friends drive drunk. Arrange a safe way for them to get home.
- Always buckle up. It’s still your best defense against other drunk drivers.
If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party:
- Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange ride-sharing with sober drivers.
- Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
- Host your party just like they do at the stadium. Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game. The fourth quarter is perfect for serving coffee and dessert.
- Keep the phone numbers of local cab companies on hand and take the keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving drunk.
- Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving crash.
- If an underage person drinks and drives, the parent may be legally liable for any damage, injury or death caused by the underage driver.
- Likewise, parents or other adults who provide alcohol to, or host a party where alcohol is available to, those under age 21 could face jail time.
For more information on impaired driving initiatives in Georgia, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org and to download the Drive Sober GA app, visit the app stores on both the Apple and Android markets.