Why Alcohol Impairs Driving Ability

By James Madeiros


Bad News Booze Cruise

We all (should) know that drinking impairs our ability to drive, but the reasons why this occurs may be more of a mystery to some. Understanding the physiological effects of alcohol can help us better see how driving safely gets much more difficult under the influence.

The Center for Disease Control reports that drunk driving is the leading cause of death for persons aged 5-34, resulting in an average of 30 deaths per day. It is the worst-case scenario for an impaired driver, and a statistic that proves that something about intoxication makes it harder to drive.

The first critical safety tool that is weakened by alcohol is the ability to properly assess risk. Good judgment flies out the window with a shockingly low level of alcohol, and when it’s gone bad ideas seem very reasonable. Alcohol impairs judgment while driving as well as the judgment of whether to drive in the first place.

With a touch more alcohol vision and acuity are affected, and it becomes harder to correctly perceive things moving at speed, including things outside the vehicle and the vehicle itself. Vision compromised by the effects of alcohol can make it difficult to judge distances, which makes stopping and cornering harder.

The most obvious effects of alcohol, however, impact reaction time and coordination. Impaired motor skills combined with the inability to quickly engage those skills in response to oncoming traffic, loose dogs or children and traffic signals makes driving very dangerous not only for the driver but for everyone else.

Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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