Football May Increase Drinking and Driving

With football season well under way — the Texas Department of Transportation is trying to tackle a serious problem. The number of people who drink and drive goes up significantly on football game days in Texas. Laurie Johnson reports.

Football is to Texas as beer is to football — it's nearly impossible to separate them from one another. Whether you're at the game, tailgating or just watching with friends at home — there's a good chance alcohol is part of the experience.
TxDOT Spokeswoman Tracie Mendez says nearly one third of all traffic fatalities in Texas are caused by drivers
under the influence and those numbers get worse around game day.

"What we've seen is driving fatalities increase by 41 percent after these games."

That's a big deal in a place like Houston, where you've got your local teams like the Texans and UH Cougars, but also huge fan bases for Texas A&M and UT. Mendez says their studies show some of the worst offenders are people who watch the game at someone's home.

"Make sure you know, one — if you're going to stay where you are, if you have somebody that is not going to be drinking. It's not the one that's been drinking the least, it's the one that has not been drinking at all to be able to be the driver. But the thing that we're telling people is we know that you're going to be drinking and we're not trying to tell people do not be drinking. We want people to know a plan before you actually start drinking."

Mendez says there's a lot of planning that takes place on the football field, and TxDOT wants fans to plan off the field as well. As she puts it, fans should know when to pass.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...