Based on the breathalyzer results of a small percentage of sports fans who agreed to be tested post-game, the roads leading away from major sporting events could be chock full of drunk drivers, says Scientific American. If you extrapolate the findings of this study to entire NFL games, as many as 5000 people could be leaving each game, legally too drunk to drive.
That extrapolation is interesting as a thought experiment, but it's not necessarily a valid thing to do with this small of a per-game sample size, especially when the people sampled were (partially, anyway) self-selected. In reality, the numbers could be lower or higher. I bring this study up, though, because it is apparently one of the first attempts, ever, to measure the blood alcohol content of people leaving major sporting events. It was meant to test the feasibility of such a study, as much as anything else. Conclusion: It's possible. And the study also brings up some interesting questions that I hope will be addressed in future research:
• Are baseball and football fans different from other sports fans, when it comes to drinking? What about hockey and basketball? Or something less popular, like volleyball?
• How do these numbers compare to the percentage of legally inebriated people leaving other kinds of cultural events, like plays?
• What were the transportation choices of the people sampled? I don't really care if you get drunk at a Packer's game, as long as somebody sober drives you home.
• How does the percentage of legally inebriated people who choose to drive after a sports game compare to, say, the percentage of legally inebriated people who choose to drive home from a play, and from the bars on Saturday night? And how do those figures compare to the BACs of a random sampling of Americans driving on a busy highway? Is there just a flat percentage of us who don't care much about driving drunk? Or does the size of that group vary by activity?
(Via Brian Mossop)
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.