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Group hopes to curb DUIs on Super Bowl Sunday

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By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

To many Americans, Super Bowl Sunday means football, partying and plenty to eat and drink. For the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, it means an increase in traffic deaths caused by drunken driving.

From 2011 through 2015, according to federal data, 37 percent of all fatal crashes on the day of and morning after the Super Bowl involved driving under the influence.

“With over a third of all U.S. traffic deaths being caused by drunk drivers during Super Bowl Sunday, it’s important to have a game plan to beat this opponent,” said Kurt Gregory Erickson, president of WRAP, a nonprofit group that advocates safe driving.

WRAP has a list of tips to prevent drunk driving. It includes assigning a designated driver, using a taxi or ride-sharing service, drinking and serving non-alcoholic beverages, and wearing your seat belt.

“Wearing a seat belt may not be widely viewed as a tool in this effort, but the wearing of a seat belt may be your best defense against a drunk driver,” Erickson said. “The routine wearing of seat belts is the single most effective measure to reduce crash related deaths and injuries.”

The Falls Church-based organization also encourages people to report suspected drunken drivers they see to the police. Dialing “#77” on a mobile phone will connect you to the Virginia State Police.

For more information and tips on how to prevent drunken driving, visit the organization’s website, www.wrap.org.

To combat drunken driving on Sunday, the Virginia State Police is having a “Trooper Bowl” – a traffic safety enforcement campaign.

“Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is never a smart play, which is why our troopers will be out specifically patrolling for impaired drivers,” said Craig Worsham, commander of the Virginia State Police Appomattox Division.

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