Both intoxication and distraction are dangerous for driving driving. Either can cause a fatal traffic crash. Combining the two further increases the risk of crashes, according to research.
Study subjects used a driving simulator. Their primary goal was to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of them. Their secondary goal was to keep a stable lane position. All subjects engaged in distractions and half consumed alcohol to a BAC of 0.08).
Researchers then compared sober driving while distracted to driving intoxicated without distraction. Distraction produced more serious changes in driving behavior than did intoxication for both primary and secondary driving goals. However, impairment was increased when participants were both intoxicated and distracted.
This research is consistent with earlier findings of others. That is, cell phone use is highly distracting. It makes such phone users even more dangerous than intoxicated drivers at the .08 to .10 BAC levels.
The take home messageis simple. Don’t drive while intoxicated and don’t drive while using a cell phone (even a hands-free model). And don’t even think of doing both simultaneously.
Resources: Intoxication and Distraction are Dangerous
Cell Phones and Traffic Fatalities
We Save Lives. Drugged, Distracted, and Drunken Driving
Cell Phone vs Drunk Driving. (Both are Dangerous. For Safety, Do Neither)
Drowsy/Fatigued Driving is Fatally Dangerous to Teens and other Young Drivers
Espejo, R. Cell Phones and Driving. Farmington Hills, MI: Cenage, 2015.
Hole, G. The Psychology of Driving. London: Routledge, 2019.
Netzley, P. How Serious is Teen Drunk and Distracted Driving? San Diego: RefPoint, 2014.
Oregon DOT. Distracted Driving can be Deadly. Salem: DOT, 2018.
Simms, J. Teens and Distracting Driving. San Diego: RefPoint, 2019.
Stewart, G. Cell Phones and Driving. San Diego, RefPoint, 2015.
Rakauskas, M., et al. Combined effects of alcohol and distraction on driving. Acc Anal Preve, 2008, 1742-9.