By Maddison Graham
Hello, Fall. You bring us mountains of joy through the cooler weather, the orange and red colors of the leaves, but most importantly, COLLEGE FOOTBALL. This sport brings people together from across the State of Texas to gather in large parking lots where football fans consume excessive amounts of burgers and beer. So, as you put on your eye black and football jerseys, and settle down in your tent with your five cases of beer, you should be aware of some of the traffic safety dangers surrounding this glorious day.
Saturdays are always the best days for football. There’s nothing better than rooting for the boys on the field. Whether you root for the Bears, the Raiders, the Aggies, or the Longhorns, there are some essential transportation safety guidelines that everyone should follow. We all know how bad game day traffic can be. First and foremost, the best way to avoid the hassle of game day traffic altogether is to not drive. Find a friend that lives near the stadium, drive to their house, and walk from there. However, even as a pedestrian, there are some safety tips you should follow.
Below are a few tips to remember during your tailgating fun.
Never. Ever. Drive Drunk – or Buzzed!
The best way to avoid drinking and driving is to not even put yourself in that situation. Instead use a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft, public transportation, or walk to your tailgate. Even after a few drinks, you could be over the legal limit to driver and potentially go to jail. Remember, #BuzzedDriving is #DrunkDriving! If you don’t have your car to begin with, this eliminates the possibility of drinking and driving all together. Besides, nobody wants to sit in post-game traffic anyways!
#BoozeItLooseIt #SoberRide #DriveSoberGetPulledOver
Find the Designated Rideshare Pickup Location Before You Drink Your Weight in Beer
Create a plan on how to get home before you begin drinking. If you and your friends create a solid plan, whether it be by rideshare, bus, or walking, plan your route on how to get home. Football stadiums usually have a designated area for rideshare and taxi services to pick up passengers. TxDOT has an entire Plan While You Can campaign that provides resources to young adult drivers. Hold yourself and your friends accountable.
Some Universities provide a free rideshare service home in your city or on campus. Check out the examples below, and see if your university offers similar services.
Texas A&M: CARPOOL
Texas Tech: Raider Ride/Safe Ride
University of Texas: SURE Ride
UNT: e-Ride Service
Follow the Crowd – within Reason
Even though the crowd walking to and from the stadium will be rowdy and ready for kickoff, always be aware of your surroundings when walking around campus. Luckily, universities have plenty of transportation safety strategies, such as blocking off roads and hiring traffic cops. Follow the crowd and listen to the traffic cops. However, do not follow others who are engaging in unsafe behaviors, such as jaywalking.
Be alert when walking, do not walk distracted (aka looking at your phone). You don’t want to get a big red mark on your forehead from running into a light pole, especially after you spent 3 hours on your hair and makeup!
#ReadTheSigns #DontJaywalk #PedestrianXing
Drivers locked in the parking garage can often make risky maneuvers that can put others in danger. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings in a parking lot or garage, and watch out for (probably intoxicated) pedestrians. Be patient! Everyone is in your same situation: stuck in a parking garage or at an intersection. Don’t be heavy on the horn; that does not put anyone in a better mood.
#NoRoadRage #DriveFriendly #SlowItDown
Most Importantly… Have Fun!!
#GameDay is for laughs, family, friends, and the home team. There is nothing quite like the joy of football. To make sure you stay safe, follow the safety measures laid out by the university and police. Here are a few extra tips for you to have the best experience possible during the game:
- Make sure your phone is fully charged – and bring a portable charger. You never know if you will be separated from your group in the crowd; and you might not have phone service in the crowd to find them again right away.
- Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after the game.
- Don’t overdo it. The combination of the heat, the walking, the alcohol, and the greasy foods can take a toll on you. If you aren’t feeling the best, take a break. Sit down and drink water, and, if needed, call an Uber to pick you up.
Take charge of #GameDay, and lead the boys to a victory. Even though it’s important that the home team wins, it’s more important that everyone has fun, stays safe, and does not engage in dangerous behaviors.
Madison Graham is a student at the University of Texas obtaining her master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning. She loves all things transportation, and her focuses include bicycle and pedestrian accessibility and safety.