State troopers operate a sobriety checkpoint on the Newbridge Road...

State troopers operate a sobriety checkpoint on the Newbridge Road entrance ramp to the Southern State Parkway on the eve of the Super Bowl in 2019. Credit: Jeff Bachner

America’s most celebrated football event this weekend should be tempered by sobering statistics, showing a 38% surge in crashes statewide following the Super Bowl, including an increase on Long Island.

AAA analyzed federal data from 2018 through 2022 and found that Suffolk and Nassau had an average of 30 crashes from 9 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday after the game — a spike compared with an average of 20 crashes during the same period the week before and week after the game.

An average of about seven crashes resulted in injury after the game compared with an average of 4.5 crashes with injuries the other weeks.

Statewide, there was an average of 206 crashes after the game, compared with an average of 149 crashes during the same eight-hour period in other weeks. 

Experts said the decades-old big game brings lots of fanfare often centered around drinking. But on Long Island, where driving is the predominant mode of transportation, the two endeavors can pose an increased risk to the public. Smoking marijuana in cars, which experts said appears more pervasive, is also another concern this weekend.

“From midnight to 8 a.m., it’s particularly dangerous because you have people who are under the influence, and then there is the literal hangover effect where people suffer from fatigue,” said Robert Sinclair Jr.,  the automobile association's  Northeast spokesman. “Anytime there is increased danger, the first and best piece of advice is to stay off the road.”

Crashes on Long Island claimed 243 lives in 2022, 29% more than in 2019.

Meanwhile, bars and restaurants are expected to be packed on Sunday, and many households across the region are throwing their own bashes. 

Mike Constantatos, owner and manager of The Main Event, with locations in Farmingdale and Plainview, said he expects more than 600 patrons at both restaurants. Bartenders are also on the lookout for tipsy guests, making sure they don't get behind the wheel and offering water first instead of another requested drink. 

“If someone is drinking too much, they start slurring words or stumbling,  we make sure they have a ride home … If they can’t call an Uber or Lyft,  we’ll get them a ride,” Constantatos said.

State and local police said they are conducting increased patrols and sobriety checkpoints during Super Bowl weekend.

During last year's Super Bowl weekend, state police  charged 183 people with impaired driving and issued 11,865 tickets across the state, according to state officials. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, statewide, 1,028 tickets were given out for alcohol- or drug-impaired driving, part of a total of 35,437 tickets issued.

Experts advised revelers planning on drinking to have alternative arrangements to get home and to set a drink limit. State officials also advised hosts to stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter.

Jeffrey Reynolds,  president and CEO of the Family and Children’s Association in Garden City, said that during the pandemic, alcohol sales climbed 35% and still haven’t declined as booze has become more accessible. Liquor and wine stores are now permitted to operate for extended periods on Sundays, while people can buy alcoholic beverages to go from restaurants and drink at movie theaters.

“The use of alcohol has increased, the use of cannabis has increased,  and you have Super Bowl Sunday —  talk about have perfect storm,” said Reynolds. 

Regine Galanti, psychologist at Long Island Behavioral Psychology in Cedarhust, said social drinkers are not necessarily intent on getting inebriated but may lose track of how much they've consumed or how it's affecting them as they're sitting around.

“We know alcohol impairs gross motor  [skills] and decision-making, but if you’re not moving, you’re not going to notice the motor symptoms,” Galanti said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 13,384 people were killed nationwide in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2021.

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