Insurance industry data link NFL games to higher car crash rates

Data shows car crash rates go up during NFL home games and the Super Bowl

On Super Bowl Sunday, the football players will be taking hits on the field. The rest of us will be taking hits on the road.

A variety of insurance industry data links the big game and other NFL matches to an increase in auto collisions.

Sunday is the Super Bowl of drunk driving, according to California safety officials and the Auto Club of Southern California.

They looked at five years of California crash data and found there was a 77% increase in alcohol-related crashes causing injury or death on Super Bowl Sunday. In some communities, such as San Diego, the number of drunk driving crashes more than doubled.

“Every one of us has a responsibility to ensure we do not contribute to the problem by allowing a drunk or drugged driver to hit the road on Super Bowl Sunday,” said Dave Jones, California’s insurance commissioner.

But Super Bowl Sunday isn’t the only time when crash rates increase on game day.

The rate of collision claims from ZIP codes around NFL stadiums is higher on days when the home team loses or ties than when it wins, according to a new study from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an insurance industry-funded research group.

The institute examined collision claims for the neighborhoods where 31 NFL stadiums are located and found that when the home team loses or ties the frequency of auto crash insurance claims rose 9% higher compared to other days. It climbed 3% when the home team won.

“Disappointed fans may be focusing more on the bad play or the missed field goal than on the road ahead,” said Russ Rader, the institute’s spokesman.

The game day effect was more pronounced at some stadiums than others, said Matt Moore, an institute vice president. Game days at the home stadiums of the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions created the biggest increase in crashes.

“This may point to differences in policing and traffic management strategies, which could present opportunities for improvement,” he said.

There’s also some evidence that traffic collisions involving pizza delivery vehicles rise on Super Bowl days.

The Super Bowl is the largest pizza delivery day of the year, said Janet Ruiz of the Insurance Information Institute, so there’s ample opportunity for more crashes.

Domino’s Pizza, for example, expects to deliver 1.5 million pies Sunday, a 79% increase over a non-football Sunday. Most will be delivered during a time period the starts before kickoff and ends about halftime, said Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre.

A 2012 study from the Fireman's Fund insurance carrier, found that pizza-related claims on Super Bowl Sunday rose 9% over other days. And the crashes were more severe, averaging a 19% increase in dollar damages over similar claims on other days.

This all means that Inglewood should be careful as it moves forward with plans to approve the construction of an NFL stadium. It’s a given that a new state-of-the-art stadium would land the Super Bowl. Just imagine the traffic chaos if the L.A. franchise makes it to the big game and loses.

Follow me on Twitter (@LATimesJerry), Facebook and Google+.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times