Alcohol and Driving Skills

A low blood alcohol content (BAC) led to a slight improvement in driving skills by experimental subjects, according to researchers at Yale University.

Research participants tried to “drive” safely using a driving simulator. Their driving skills were tested with no blood alcohol content, at .04 BAC, at .08 (the legal limit for driving), and at .10.

Although there was a slight improvement in driving ability at the lowest BAC level (.04), abilities decreased as BAC increased above that level. The investigators speculate that, at the lower BAC level, people were aware that they were mildly impaired and compensated for the effects of the alcohol by trying harder to be “good drivers.”

There are many ways to avoid driving while impaired by alcohol. One of the most popular is the use of a designated driver.

References

  • Katz, Abram. Yale study pinpoints alcohol reactions. The Middleton Press, November 26, 2004.

Readings

  • Alberta Transportation & Utilities. Designated Driver? A Smart Choice. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: 1996 (www.ama.ab.ca/trafsafe/thkf_des.htm/ [6-23-00]).
  • Associated Press, "Designated Driver Campaign Working," Houston Chronicle, 11-30-97, p. A14.
  • Brookoff, D., Cook, C. S., Williams, C., and Mann, C. S. Testing reckless drivers for cocaine and marijuana. New England Journal of Medicine, 1994, 331, 518-522.
  • Jones, R. K., and Lacey, J. H. Historical Documentation and Assessment of Existing Literature in the Field of Alcohol-Traffic Safety Evaluation (1980-Present). Contract No. DTNH22-88-C-05126. Springfield, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, 1991.
  • National Commission Against Drunk Driving. A Guide to Community-Based Designated Driver Programs. (www.ncadd.com/designated/designated1.html).
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Get the Keys: How You Can Intervene. (www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/alcohol/innocent/index.html/ [6-23-00])
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), www.nhtsa.dot.gov and National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/departments/nrd-30/ncsa/.)
  • Nichols, J. L., and Ross, H. L. The effectiveness of legal sanctions in dealing with drunk drivers. Alcohol, Drugs and Driving, 1990, 6, 33-60.
    Project CHEERS to the Designated Driver (http://web.missouri.edu/~adaptwww/CHEERS1.html/ [6-23-00]).
  • Ross. H. L. Confronting Drunk Driving: Social Policy for Saving Lives. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1992, pp. 35-38.
  • Simpson, H. M., and Mayhew, D. R. The Hard Core Drinking Driver. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Traffic Injury Research Foundation, 1991, pp. 23-24.
  • U.S. Department of Transportation. A Guide to Developing a Community-Based Designated Driver Program. (www.ncadd.com/designated/designated2.html/ [6-23-00])

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving