Think the OK to have one an ext beer before driving home? know the facts about what each subsequent drink does come your ability to run a car safely.

You are watching: Alcohol affects the reaction time of drivers by slowing the reaction time down


A few years ago, a drunk driver v multiple front offenses and also no precious driver’s patent smashed a truck through the wall of mine son’s job care.

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Fortunately, the children and also staff were unharmed. Yet just minutes before, mine son and I had actually walked through the specific spot in the building where the truck pertained to rest in a pile of debris.

Having functioned in the emergency room because that years, I’ve watched the aftermath of drunk driving frequently enough, however that was the first time I had actually seen one accident up close.

There’s no question that drunk steering is a major public health difficulty in the joined States. In 2014, almost one-third that the country 32,675 website traffic fatalities were alcohol-related.

In various other words, a totally preventable death developed every 53 minutes.

My frightening brush with a drunk driver do me wonder around what practices and policies could assist prevent such crashes and fatalities — and also question however again whether vehicle drivers are totally aware of the prestige of responsible consumption prior to getting behind the wheel. 

Think you’re OK to drive?

Drunk drivers often to express surprise, shock or denial around their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or level of impairment when they arrive in the ER.

They’re regularly drunker 보다 they think.

Elevated blood alcohol levels, no matter exactly how “sober” friend feel, can have a real impact on your capacity to perform tasks that need concentration, such as driving.

And the an ext you drink, the harder it is come judge how intoxicated friend are.

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Studies have shown that enhancing BAC is likewise associated through a decreased reaction time. One examine pointed come an average diminished reaction time of 120 millisecond — just over a tenth that a second — associated through a BAC level of 0.08, the legal border in the united States.

So, when cruising in ~ 70 miles every hour, a drunk driver would travel for secondary 12 feet before reacting come a roadway hazard.


A 160-pound male that consumes two alcoholic beverages will endure some ns of judgment, decreased capacity to rapidly track a moving target and also reduced multitasking ability, according to the Centers for condition Control and also Prevention.

Women, who normally weigh less than men, would view a higher BAC per drink.

Three alcoholic drink will bring a who blood alcohol level to roughly 0.05%, which can impair the capacity to rapidly emphasis vision, lower alertness and also decrease coordination — to the allude that steering becomes challenging and response to driving emergencies becomes blunted.

After around four alcoholic drinks, one’s balance, vision and also reaction time are frequently affected. It i do not care harder to detect roadway dangers. Reasoning and information processing are often measurably impaired. This coincides most very closely to a BAC that 0.08%.

A blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% is generally associated with a clean loss that reaction time and also control. There will certainly be a reduced ability to maintain proper lane position or come brake appropriately.

Taking precautionary measures

In 2000, conference passed legislation making 0.08 BAC the nationwide standard because that impaired driving in the joined States. The level had already been linked with a to decrease in alcohol-related highway fatalities in states enforcing it. 

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Studies dating back to the 1960s have actually demonstrated the correlation between BAC and accident risk. The relative hazard of being in a crash is 1.38 times greater at a BAC the 0.05 보다 at a BAC that 0.00. In ~ 0.08, the danger is 2.69 time higher. In ~ 0.10, the crash risk climbs to 5 times higher.

When you think about the medical evidence, including the physiological effects and also the relative risk that crash, you have the right to understand why some countries (including Australia, France, Germany and also Italy) collection the legal border at 0.05 BAC — and why in 2013 the national Transportation safety Board recommended that 0.05 become the brand-new limit in the U.S.

Another solution to curb drunk driving can be discovered in ignition interlocks, i beg your pardon are basically Breathalyzer devices linked to the vehicle’s ignition system to certain that only a sober driver deserve to start the car.

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All says use ignition interlocks to some degree, but as the January, only 23 states need interlocks for all DUI offenders. A 2015 study in the American newspaper of public Health discovered that states with these regulations have fewer alcohol-involved crash deaths.

Still, no issue a country’s rule or intervention plans, it is the responsibility of every driver to recognize that over there is no “safe” BAC level.

And the bottom line is simple: the more you drink, the less you are able to journey safely, and also the greater the likelihood of one accident.

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This is one updated variation of an short article originally released on July 22, 2016 top top The Conversation. You can read the initial version here.