How Alcohol Impairs Driving Ability

Alcohol has been around for a very long time. After all, for many years it was safer to drink than water. However, now that we have safe drinking water and we’re living in a technological age involving motor vehicles and other heavy machinery, alcohol can be extremely dangerous. It can lead to drunk driving accidents and it can be deadly.

We know that alcohol affects safe driving skills, but how? Let’s take a closer look at how alcohol affects a person’s ability to drive safely:

  • Alcohol affects judgement. At blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels as low as .02%, it can affect mental function and judgement. Meaning, reasoning and caution go quickly.
  • Alcohol affects a driver’s ability to concentrate on the multiple tasks that go into driving, such as traffic on the road, talking with passengers, the vehicle’s speed, and the position of the vehicle on the road.
  • Alcohol affects a driver’s ability to comprehend what’s happening in their environment. This includes traffic, situations, signs, and signals etc. When a driver’s comprehension is reduced, it can make it easy for the driver to get confused and in effect, they can end up driving the wrong way, blowing through a stop sign, or accidentally running a red light, etc.
  • Alcohol affects vison and hearing, the ability to see and hear things clearly. Alcohol reduces visual acuity, it reduces peripheral vision, and it impairs a person’s ability to judge distances. It also reduces hearing and the ability to determine direction.
  • Alcohol can severely reduce coordination. It can slow down reaction time by as much as 25%, which can result in an accident that would have been avoided if the person did not have alcohol in their system.

There is plenty of research available on how alcohol affects judgement, coordination, and motor skills – all skills necessary for safe driving. Since alcohol impairs a person’s ability to drive safely, it’s best not to drive with any alcohol in one’s system.

Let’s let the experts weigh in on how much alcohol increases crash risk: “The unadjusted crash risk estimates for alcohol indicated that drivers with BrACs of .05 grams per 210 liters g/210L are 2.05 times more likely to crash than drivers with no alcohol. For drivers with BrACs of .08 g/210L, the unadjusted crash risk is 3.98 times that of drivers with no alcohol,” according to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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