COLLEGE STATION — The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Watch UR BAC program is spreading an important safety message to the public about designating a sober driver on Super Bowl Sunday: Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.
“Watch UR BAC — the BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration — is a free, statewide program to promote alcohol awareness, the dangers of impaired driving, and friends watching out for friends,” explained AgriLife Extension program manager Bobbi Brooks, a certified passenger safety technician.
Drunk driving is always preventable, and driving drunk could result in seriously injuring or killing yourself or someone else, Brooks said.
“Super Bowl Sunday, which will be Feb. 3 this year, is a risky day for drunk-driving crashes, plus motorists can expect law enforcement to have an increased presence and to stop people who make the dangerous decision to drink and drive,” she said.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation data, 1,039 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in Texas in 2011, accounting for 34.5 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the state.
Brooks said the Watch UR BAC program advises those attending a Super Bowl party or watching the game at a sports bar or restaurant to:
— Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace your alcohol consumption, eat plenty of food, take breaks and alternate with drinking non-alcoholic beverages.
— Designate a sober driver before the party begins. If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home, or call a cab, friend or family member. If possible, stay where you are for the night and don’t drive until you are sober.
— Don’t let friends drive drunk. Arrange a safe way for them to get home.
— Always buckle up as this is still the best practical on-the-road defense against drunk drivers.
If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party:
–Make sure guests designate a sober driver in advance or help arrange ride-sharing with sober drivers.
— Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
— Host your party as if you were at a sports stadium. Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game and save the fourth quarter for coffee and dessert.
— Keep the phone numbers of local cab companies nearby and take the keys away from anyone who appears to be thinking of driving drunk.
“Remember, you could be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving crash,” Brooks said. “And 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 made available to underage drinkers could face jail time.”
Brooks said AgriLife Extension has a Texas Department of Transportation-funded grant to provide no-cost presentations on alcohol awareness and drunk-driving prevention statewide.
“Members of the Watch UR BAC alcohol awareness team have decades of combined experience in drunk-driving prevention and alcohol awareness, along with traffic safety best practices,” she said. “We are currently booking engagements to speak to schools, community groups and faith-based organizations throughout the state.”
Brooks said the program uses a DWI-prevention simulator to demonstrate the effects of alcohol on driving skills.
“Through a video game-like situation, drivers experience obstacles and hazards to simulate those that one might encounter if driving impaired,” she said. “Special goggles which distort vision are worn by the driver during the simulation experience to further duplicate the effect of alcohol on one’s vision. We also have a pedal car that is used in tandem with goggles to simulate impaired driving.”
She added that alcohol-awareness instruction includes a demonstration of alcohol content in various beverages and discusses the risks of alcohol poisoning.
For more information on the Watch UR BAC program, contact Brooks at 979-862-8325, firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to http://watchurbac.tamu.edu. The program’s Facebook page, Watch UR BAC, and Twitter account, hash tag @WatchURBAC, have updates.