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As we turn our calendars to September and begin to welcome in the cooler weather, it’s easy to see why many people consider fall to be the most wonderful time of the year. With football season upon us, it’s time to dust off the shrines to our favorite teams, put on our game-day outfits, and cheer for victory. Whether your loyalties lie with the NFL, your alma mater, or the local high school, tailgates forge something even stronger and more compelling than the team itself: a community that brings us back year after year.
While tailgate season fills our weekends with fun, it also brings added risk to the roads where heavy traffic to and from the games comes with a higher potential for accidents, as do pedestrians and the influence of alcohol. Parking lots and road lanes also may be closed off to host the tailgates, creating a new traffic pattern. Drivers used to the road being a certain way may be caught off guard by these changes, increasing the likelihood of surprising movements.
Vigilance during travel is important no matter the occasion, but more moving parts make it all the more essential. We fill our game-day schedules with plans for the good memories; nobody deserves to have that replaced with an accident or injury.
Here are some things to remember to keep your game days safe and celebratory:
- Keep a designated driver in your party to ensure everyone gets to and from each destination safely. You can also arrange for a rideshare service or have someone else pick you up and drop you off. Remember that it’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol.
- Always drive defensively, remaining alert to anything on the road. We can control our own safety behaviors but not those around us!
- Be mindful of things on the road other than cars such as motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
- Be prepared for traffic patterns that can be different in otherwise familiar areas.
- Distractions can occur inside or outside the car. Focus on the business of driving and wait to enjoy the colors, bands, and festivities afterwards!
- Make sure everyone in the car is wearing seatbelts before driving.
- Check on your car before hitting the road by making sure brakes, lights, and other parts of the car are in proper working order.
For most people, the tailgate season goes off without a hitch, and our goal is to promote an environment that makes this true for everyone. With good habits and vigilance in place, we can return our focus to what’s most important: the game, the team, and the people with us. A community gathered together to enjoy a sporting event is worth celebrating. Whether you’re a casual fan or a lifetime devotee, we hope this football season is filled with fond memories. Enjoy the atmosphere and the company, and if you need us, we’re on your team.