If the Saints lose Sunday — and the prospects don’t look promising — fans should be extra careful on the way home.
The Highway Loss Data Institute reports that on game day accidents around NFL stadiums always spike — particularly when the home team loses.
And leading the league in fender benders is — you guessed it — New Orleans at more than 35 percent, followed by Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Hey, it could be worse.
According to VinePair, a website devoted to all things drinking-related, the Saints are third from the bottom in having the least-drunken fans at games. Only Nashville, Tennessee, and Cincinnati have less.
Yeah, we didn’t believe that, either.
And neither can the NFL.
“We sent information on our drinking incidents to the Saints, who pass them along to the NFL,” Mercedes-Benz Superdome General Manager Alan Freeman said. “Occasionally, they accuse us of sandbagging, because the numbers seem too low.
“But they’re not. We have very few ejections and arrests for excessive drinking.”
So we’ve got that going for us, even if it does somewhat ruin our image. But as far as the accidents, well, numbers don’t lie.
So, in the interest of saving lives, including mine, we have a great source of practice advice for surviving getting to and from the game.
It’s Oliver Jackson of New Orleans, a UPS driver since 1987, and a member of the company’s Circle of Honor program, meaning he’s had more than 25 years of accident-free driving.
That’s nearly 1,000,000 miles on the road and an untold number of brown shorts worn out.
But in all seriousness, there’s no more prestigious award for a UPS driver, especially when you consider that their trucks, while seemingly indestructible, aren’t the most maneuverable of vehicles.
Jackson also happens to be a Saints season-ticket holder, so he’s got a vested interest in avoiding game-day mishaps.
“First of all, if you’ve been drinking, let somebody else drive,” Jackson said. “And put that phone down until you get home.
“But I think, too, the things I see most of all is speeding, especially when it’s wet. People act like if their car is going fast it’s going to stop fast, too, and it doesn’t always do that.”
There are some reasons, Freeman holds, which make the area around the Superdome more susceptible for accidents, starting with it being more landlocked than others.
Also, the entrance and egress routes are more limited than at some NFL venues, especially this season when one of the I-10 entrance ramps has been closed.
And while there are only 7,000 Dome-controlled parking spaces, the lack of public transportation for fans contributes to more fans driving to the game than in most other places.
That makes things especially dicey after games when most folks are anxious to get away quickly given the lack of tailgating areas around that might have some lingering for a while, although many obviously find watering holes in the area to commiserate over the day’s events.
Sunday, the problem will be even more exacerbated by the 3:25 p.m. start, meaning everyone will be starting for home in the dark.
The Monday night game against Detroit is on Dec. 21, meaning it’s falling on the shortest day of the year — so fans will be arriving after sundown.
“Obviously, you’re going to have more problems at night,” Freeman said. “It’s just harder to see, and because it’s later, people want to get home.”
That though, Jackson said, means drivers should even be more cautious.
“If you’re in a group, have a designated driver,” he said. “They cut off beer sales after the third quarter, but if you’ve had too much, you still shouldn’t drive.
“The texting is a big problem all the time. The other day a woman came up behind in her car, and she never looked up from her phone until it was almost too late. You can’t do two things at once.”
That includes talking on the phone while driving as well.
WWL radio analyst Bobby Hebert doesn’t recall anyone having an accident while venting their spleens calling his postgame show but said there have been a few pulled over by the cops.
“One guy kept talking while he was parked in his driveway because he knew if he went in while still telling us what he thought of the game he’d get into to a big fight with a wife,” Hebert added. “So we let him finish.”
And, while minding your own driving, Jackson emphasizes, be mindful of the other guys — ones who might be impaired or overly aggressive, avoiding tailgating and tailgaters and paying attention to your surroundings in general.
Obviously you don’t go a million miles without an accident by being careless.
Jackson includes another element for fans to remember after a game, particularly when things don’t go their team’s way.
“People are going to take their emotions home with them, win or lose,” he said. “If we win, great, and if we lose, you feel terrible.
“Either way, you’re probably not thinking much about your driving. So at least try to leave those emotions behind, at least until you get home and don’t take it out on the other guy.”
Good things to remember.
Along with UPS’ motto for its drivers: “Our most important stop of the day is the last one — home.”
Now if Oliver could just give the Saints advice to stop the wreck this season has become.