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Since the late 19th century, football has quickly become the most popular sport in the United States.
Today, the National Football League (NFL) has the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world.
More people watched the 2017 Super Bowl than any other program in U.S. television history — a record-breaking 172 million viewers.
Did you know? This highly anticipated, most-watched sporting event in the world was named after a toy. The name “Super Bowl” came from the Super Ball, one of the most popular children’s toys in the mid-1960s.
Unlike its name origin may imply, the Super Bowl is far from child’s play.
Read on to discover the powerful effect this one game has on American roads. You’re just in time with Super Bowl 52 fast-approaching on Sunday, February 4, 2018.
View our interactive graphics here.
- This article is a result of an in-depth study of seven years of NHTSA fatal crash reports.
- Our team of analysts compiled nearly 25,000 data points of deadly accidents that occurred on the roads in the home and away states during the Super Bowl.
- To allow for the study of the complete trend for 2010-2016, our intricate data includes the days just before and after each Super Bowl and a fatal crash annual average for the rest of the year.
- The first four facts below include the best and worst game days for fatal crashes in America for the winning and losing teams’ home states.
- The remaining six facts are correlated from the 25,000 data points we analyzed.
10 Facts about Fatal Car Crashes During the Super Bowl
We’ve gone to great lengths to provide you with the latest traffic safety information. This study is the first to shine a light on the road dangers surrounding the Super Bowl.
#1 – The Super Bowl with the MOST Fatal Crashes: Winning State
Game and Year: Super Bowl XLIV (2010)
Winning Team: New Orleans Saints
Fatal Crashes in Home State: 2
Difference from Daily Average: +13.35 percent
The first time the Saints ever made it to the Super Bowl, they won!
With a final score of 31 to 17, the Colts’ head coach, Tony Dungy, was correct when he said:
“I don’t think it’s going to be close.”
Only one little part of his prediction was wrong . . . which team would win.
Louisiana’s major win at the Hard Rock Stadium was coupled with a major loss on its public roads with a 13.35 percent increase in fatal car crashes that day.
#2 – The Super Bowl with the MOST Fatal Crashes: Losing State
Game and Year: Super Bowl XLVII (2013)
Losing Team: San Francisco 49ers
Fatal Crashes in Home State: 9
Difference from Daily Average: +14.86 percent
Everyone knew one thing going into the 47th Super Bowl, that a Harbough coach would earn a world championship title as two brothers, Jim (49ers’ coach) and John (Ravens’ coach) faced off that night.
After a 34-minute game delay due to a strange power outage, the 49ers came back 22 points and nearly won with the greatest comeback in NFL history, but with a final score of 34 to 31, the Ravens earned their second Super Bowl title.
Sadly it wasn’t just the Super Bowl California lost that day. The suffering intensified due to a 14.86 percent spike in fatal crashes compared to its statewide daily average.
#3 – The Super Bowl with the LEAST Fatal Crashes: Winning State
Game and Year (Tie): Super Bowl XLV (’11) and Super Bowl XLVII (’13)
Winning Teams: Green Bay Packers (’11) and Baltimore Ravens (’13)
Fatal Crashes in Home States: 0
Difference from Daily Average: -100 percent
The Packers beat the Steelers by six points in the 2011 Super Bowl, which meant Green Bay’s fifth Super Bowl win, but the first title in 14 years.
And, even though it seemed the 49ers were going to win their sixth title after a huge comeback, the Ravens earned their second title as world champs in 2013.
Lives saved trumps points scored.
Green Bay and Baltimore may have scored major victories in football on those days, but in our eyes, they achieved even greater victories on the roads:
- Wisconsin: Feb 6, 2011 – ZERO fatal crashes
- Maryland: Feb 3, 2013 – ZERO fatal crashes
#4 – The Super Bowl with the LEAST Fatal Crashes: Losing State
Game and Year (Tie): Super Bowl XLIV (’10), Super Bowl XLVIII (’14), and Super Bowl XLIX (’15)
Losing Teams: Indianapolis Colts (’10), Denver Broncos (’14), and Seattle Seahawks (’15)
Fatal Crashes in Home States: 1
Difference from Daily Average: -47.93 (’10), -19.07 (’14), and -26.85 (’15)
Interestingly enough, the Super Bowl with the most fatal crashes for the winning team’s state (as discussed in #1), was also the Super Bowl with the least fatal crashes for the losing team’s home state: Super Bowl XLIV of 2010.
The next Super Bowl tied for the least fatal crashes in the losing team’s state was in 2014 when the Seahawks slaughtered the Broncos. With a final score of 43-8, Super Bowl XLVIII was what Sports Illustrated called:
“The biggest Super Bowl blowout in 21 years.”
The Colts, Broncos, and Seahawks may have lost the biggest game of the season, but their home states all had major victories with only one fatal crash that entire day. And, each state had a significant decrease in deadly crashes from their typical daily average:
- Indiana: Feb 7, 2010 – down 47.93 percent
- Colorado: Feb 2, 2014 – down 19.07 percent
- Washington: Feb 1, 2015 – down 26.85 percent
#5 – The Roads During the Super Bowl
Do more fatal crashes occur during the Super Bowl? Yes.
On average over the past seven Super Bowls, both the losing team’s state and the hosting state experienced increases in fatal crashes.
- Losing Team’s State – up 13.3 percent
- Winning Team’s State – up 11.8 percent
Here are all the times (since 2010) a state had an increase in fatal car crashes on a Super Bowl day:
- Winning Team’s Home State:
- Louisiana: Feb 7, 2010 – up 13.35 percent
- Massachusetts: Feb 1, 2015 – up 11.28 percent
- Losing Team’s Home State:
- Pennsylvania: Feb 6, 2011 – up 22.59 percent
- Massachusetts: Feb 5, 2012 – up 100.55 percent
- California: Feb 3, 2013 – up 14.86 percent
- North Carolina: Feb 7, 2016 – up 35.76 percent
- Game Hosting State:
- Texas: Feb 6, 2011 – up 70.07 percent
- Louisiana: Feb 3, 2013 – up 68.20 percent
- New Jersey: Feb 2, 2014 – up 39.58 percent
- California: Feb 7, 2016 – up 9.03 percent
Super Bowl XLV, XLVII, and L (’11, ’13 and ’16) meant a deadly day for drivers in both the losing team’s home state and the state hosting the big game.
People in the state hosting the Super Bowl are at a high risk of getting killed on the road with over 68 percent increases in fatal collisions on game day.
The greatest increase in the past seven years occurred when the Patriots lost the Super Bowl on February 5, 2012. The losing team’s home state, Massachusetts, experienced a massive 100.55 percent increase in deadly car crashes that day!
# 6 – The MOST Deadly Super Bowl
This seven-year study clearly illustrates that some Super Bowls are much more deadly than others.
The most deadly Super Bowl for American roadways occurred on Sunday, February 6, 2011.
On this day, the Steelers lost the Super Bowl, and their home state, Pennsylvania, had a shocking 148.78 percent increase in fatal crashes compared to the U.S. fatal crash average for that same day.
And, just when you thought that sounded bad, the hosting state, Texas, experienced an unbelievable 708.54 percent increase compared to the nation’s average for that day.
With game day emotions and increased alcohol consumption, 17 traffic fatal crashes occurred the day of Super Bowl XLV in just the losing team’s state and hosting states alone.
# 7 – The LEAST Deadly Super Bowl
Thankfully not all Super Bowls have caused a huge jump in deadly car crashes for the involved states.
The Super Bowl played on the first day of February in 2015 has been (by far) the least deadly Super Bowl day for American roads since before 2010.
The Patriots beat the Seahawks by four points in Super Bowl XLIX at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Both the winning and losing teams’ home states only had one fatal car crash that day, and the hosting state had absolutely none!
All three states involved in the 2015 Super Bowl had a decrease in fatal crashes that day, with a total of only two traffic deaths. That’s still two too many, but it’s far better than the 17 people killed only four Super Bowls prior.
#8 – Fatal Crash Rates During the Super Bowl
Here are the percent differences for crashes resulting in deaths for the involved states compared to that state’s fatal crash annual average:
- Winning Team’s Home State:
- Day Before the Super Bowl – down 45.4 percent
- Super Bowl Game Day – down 45.4 percent
- Day After the Super Bowl – down 18.2 percent
- Losing Team’s Home State:
- Day Before the Super Bowl – up 18.2 percent
- Super Bowl Game Day – up 13.3 percent
- Day After the Super Bowl – down 21.2 percent
- Game Hosting State:
- Day Before the Super Bowl – up 44.7 percent
- Super Bowl Game Day – up 11.8 percent
- Day After the Super Bowl – down 21.1 percent
On average since 2010, the Super Bowl-winning team’s home state experienced a drop in fatal car crashes while the losing team’s home state and the state hosting the big game both experienced significant increases in deadly car crashes.
#9 – Fatal Crash Trends During the Super Bowl
When looking at all the fatal car crash data for the past seven Super Bowls as a whole, we were able to arrive at some eye-opening conclusions.
The safest day to drive on or around the Super Bowl is . . . when it’s all over.
The day after the Super Bowl is the only day that all of the involved states had decreases in fatal car crashes — over 18 percent drops across the board.
Our extensive data proves the Super Bowl creates the greatest risks for those driving in the state hosting the big game.
Surprisingly though, game day itself isn’t the most dangerous.
The day before the Super Bowl is when we see the biggest jump in fatal crashes. On average over the past seven years, the hosting state experienced a drastic 44.7 percent increase in fatal car crashes the day before the Super Bowl.
#10 – Safety During the Super Bowl
You don’t have to be a fan of football to be affected by the biggest event in the professional league.
We aren’t just warning you of some heavy traffic. We are warning you of when you’re at a higher risk of being killed or losing a loved one.
Their study on what has been coined “Emotional Driving” helps to explain why the losing team’s home state is such a dangerous place to drive during the Super Bowl.
Follow the eight links below for advice on how to stay safe during the Super Bowl this year:
- Hosting a Super Bowl Party
- Attending a Super Bowl Party
- Reducing Alcohol Consumption
- Dealing with a Drunk Driver
- Driving in Heavy Traffic
- Avoiding Road Rage
- Avoiding Emotional Driving
- Avoiding Distracted Driving
Whether you are football’s biggest fan or you couldn’t care less, be a fan of saving lives this Super Bowl . . . and all year long!
Remember, what’s much more important than which team wins is that you and your loved ones are alive to enjoy fun things like football and wings!
Complete Rankings: Fatal Crashes During the Super Bowl
– To sort the table by category, click on header columns.
|DATE||NOTES||TEAM OR LOCATION||GAME STATUS||STATE||FATAL CRASHES FOR STATE||STATE ANNUAL FATAL CRASH AVERAGE||STATE'S % DIFFERENCE FROM STATE'S AVERAGE DAILY FATAL CRASH RATE||% OF USA DAILY FATAL CRASHES|
|01/31/2010||Day Before||New Orleans Saints||Winner||Louisiana||2||1.76||13.35||2.41|
|01/31/2010||Day After||New Orleans Saints||Winner||Louisiana||2||1.76||13.35||2.41|
|01/31/2010||Super Bowl XLIV||New Orleans Saints||Winner||Louisiana||2||1.76||13.35||2.41|
|01/31/2010||Day Before||Indianapolis Colts||Loser||Indiana||0||1.92||-100.00||0.00|
|01/31/2010||Day After||Indianapolis Colts||Loser||Indiana||0||1.92||-100.00||0.00|
|01/31/2010||Super Bowl XLIV||Indianapolis Colts||Loser||Indiana||1||1.92||-47.93||1.20|
|01/31/2010||Day Before||Sun Life Stadium||Host||Florida||11||6.19||77.58||13.25|
|01/31/2010||Day After||Sun Life Stadium||Host||Florida||4||6.19||-35.43||4.82|
|01/31/2010||Super Bowl XLIV||Sun Life Stadium||Host||Florida||5||6.19||-19.28||6.02|
|02/05/2011||Day Before||Green Bay Packers||Winner||Wisconsin||1||1.46||-31.39||1.22|
|02/05/2011||Day After||Green Bay Packers||Winner||Wisconsin||1||1.46||-31.39||1.22|
|02/05/2011||Super Bowl XLV||Green Bay Packers||Winner||Wisconsin||0||1.46||-100.00||0.00|
|02/05/2011||Day Before||Pittsburgh Steelers||Loser||Pennsylvania||10||3.26||206.47||12.22|
|02/05/2011||Day After||Pittsburgh Steelers||Loser||Pennsylvania||2||3.26||-38.71||2.44|
|02/05/2011||Super Bowl XLV||Pittsburgh Steelers||Loser||Pennsylvania||4||3.26||22.59||4.89|
|02/05/2011||Day Before||Cowboys Stadium||Host||Texas||7||7.64||-8.42||8.55|
|02/05/2011||Day After||Cowboys Stadium||Host||Texas||5||7.64||-34.59||6.11|
|02/05/2011||Super Bowl XLV||Cowboys Stadium||Host||Texas||13||7.64||70.07||15.89|
|02/04/2012||Day Before||New York Giants||Winner||New York||1||2.99||-66.61||1.18|
|02/04/2012||Day After||New York Giants||Winner||New York||4||2.99||33.58||4.72|
|02/04/2012||Super Bowl XLVI||New York Giants||Winner||New York||1||2.99||-66.61||1.18|
|02/04/2012||Day Before||New England Patriots||Loser||Massachusetts||1||1.00||0.27||1.18|
|02/04/2012||Day After||New England Patriots||Loser||Massachusetts||0||1.00||-100.00||0.00|
|02/04/2012||Super Bowl XLVI||New England Patriots||Loser||Massachusetts||2||1.00||100.55||2.36|
|02/04/2012||Day Before||Lucas Oil Stadium||Host||Indiana||3||1.97||52.50||3.54|
|02/04/2012||Day After||Lucas Oil Stadium||Host||Indiana||0||1.97||-100.00||0.00|
|02/04/2012||Super Bowl XLVI||Lucas Oil Stadium||Host||Indiana||1||1.97||-49.17||1.18|
|02/02/2013||Day Before||Baltimore Ravens||Winner||Maryland||1||1.18||-15.31||1.21|
|02/02/2013||Day After||Baltimore Ravens||Winner||Maryland||0||1.18||-100.00||0.00|
|02/02/2013||Super Bowl XLVII||Baltimore Ravens||Winner||Maryland||0||1.18||-100.00||0.00|
|02/02/2013||Day Before||San Francisco 49ers||Loser||California||7||7.84||-10.66||8.46|
|02/02/2013||Day After||San Francisco 49ers||Loser||California||11||7.84||40.38||13.29|
|02/02/2013||Super Bowl XLVII||San Francisco 49ers||Loser||California||9||7.84||14.86||10.88|
|02/02/2013||Day Before||Mercedes-Benz Superdome||Host||Louisiana||3||1.78||68.20||3.63|
|02/02/2013||Day After||Mercedes-Benz Superdome||Host||Louisiana||4||1.78||124.27||4.83|
|02/02/2013||Super Bowl XLVII||Mercedes-Benz Superdome||Host||Louisiana||3||1.78||68.20||3.63|
|02/01/2014||Day Before||Seattle Seahawks||Winner||Washington||1||1.18||-14.92||1.21|
|02/01/2014||Day After||Seattle Seahawks||Winner||Washington||1||1.18||-14.92||1.21|
|02/01/2014||Super Bowl XLVIII||Seattle Seahawks||Winner||Washington||1||1.18||-14.92||1.21|
|02/01/2014||Day Before||Denver Broncos||Loser||Colorado||0||1.24||-100.00||0.00|
|02/01/2014||Day After||Denver Broncos||Loser||Colorado||1||1.24||-19.07||1.21|
|02/01/2014||Super Bowl XLVIII||Denver Broncos||Loser||Colorado||1||1.24||-19.07||1.21|
|02/01/2014||Day Before||MetLife Stadium||Host||New Jersey||3||1.43||109.37||3.64|
|02/01/2014||Day After||MetLife Stadium||Host||New Jersey||0||1.43||-100.00||0.00|
|02/01/2014||Super Bowl XLVIII||MetLife Stadium||Host||New Jersey||2||1.43||39.58||2.43|
|01/31/2015||Day Before||New England Patriots||Winner||Massachusetts||0||0.90||-100.00||0.00|
|01/31/2015||Day After||New England Patriots||Winner||Massachusetts||0||0.90||-100.00||0.00|
|01/31/2015||Super Bowl XLIX||New England Patriots||Winner||Massachusetts||1||0.90||11.28||1.12|
|01/31/2015||Day Before||Seattle Seahawks||Loser||Washington||2||1.37||46.29||2.24|
|01/31/2015||Day After||Seattle Seahawks||Loser||Washington||0||1.37||-100.00||0.00|
|01/31/2015||Super Bowl XLIX||Seattle Seahawks||Loser||Washington||1||1.37||-26.85||1.12|
|01/31/2015||Day Before||University of Phoenix Stadium||Host||Arizona||5||2.22||125.03||5.61|
|01/31/2015||Day After||University of Phoenix Stadium||Host||Arizona||0||2.22||-100.00||0.00|
|01/31/2015||Super Bowl XLIX||University of Phoenix Stadium||Host||Arizona||0||2.22||-100.00||0.00|
|02/06/2016||Day Before||Denver Broncos||Winner||Colorado||0||1.52||-100.00||0.00|
|02/06/2016||Day After||Denver Broncos||Winner||Colorado||1||1.52||-34.41||1.06|
|02/06/2016||Super Bowl L||Denver Broncos||Winner||Colorado||1||1.52||-34.41||1.06|
|02/06/2016||Day Before||Carolina Panthers||Loser||North Carolina||4||3.68||8.61||4.25|
|02/06/2016||Day After||Carolina Panthers||Loser||North Carolina||2||3.68||-45.70||2.13|
|02/06/2016||Super Bowl L||Carolina Panthers||Loser||North Carolina||5||3.68||35.76||5.31|
|02/06/2016||Day Before||Levi's Stadium||Host||California||12||9.17||30.83||12.75|
|02/06/2016||Day After||Levi's Stadium||Host||California||11||9.17||19.93||11.69|
|02/06/2016||Super Bowl L||Levi's Stadium||Host||California||10||9.17||9.03||10.63|