How Drinking Can Affect Your Driving

How Drinking Can Affect Your Driving

Studies show that as many as 30 people die every day as a result of alcohol-impaired driving.  This means that a death occurs every 51 minutes due to choices to drink and drive.  These deaths are completely preventable and the first step is to understand how alcohol affects your body and your ability to drive safely.

When alcohol is consumed, it is absorbed through blood vessels in the stomach and small intestine.  Within minutes, the alcohol travels through the bloodstream from the stomach to the brain, where it significantly slows the operation of nerve cells.  The bloodstream also carries alcohol to the liver, where it is metabolized.  Although the liver works to rid your system of the alcohol you have consumed, it can only do so at a certain rate. This means that excess alcohol is left to circulate throughout the body, effecting the operation of all of your body’s vital systems, including the mental and physical facilities required for safe driving.

Driving is a complex task, which requires visual and auditory attention, quick reaction time, and effective multi-tasking.  Although it is legal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration below 0.08%, it is important to realize that any amount of alcohol in your system will affect your mental and physical faculties when driving.  As little as two beers can get you to a BAC of 0.02%.  Although this is well below the legal threshold, a BAC of 0.02% will result in loss of judgment, a decline in visual function, and difficulty in performing two tasks at once.  By the time your BAC reaches 0.08%, you will be experiencing compromised muscle coordination, self-control, short-term memory, reasoning, and information processing.  Any one of these consequences will significantly lower your ability to drive safely, but when working together, they make safe driving nearly impossible.

The way that alcohol affects your body and your ability to drive is largely dependent upon your body’s ability to metabolize the alcohol.  Everyone’s rate of alcohol metabolism is different and it is important to realize what factors are at work.  The speed at which your body is able to metabolize alcohol is affected by a variety of factors, including age, gender, genetics, weight, medications, and experience with alcohol consumption, type of beverages consumed, and amount of food in your system, and your overall health.  Although it is unsafe for anyone to drink and drive, studies show that women, young adults, and older adults experience alcohol’s effects more intensely than other drivers.

When you are drinking it is important to take precautions.  You should be sure to have food in your system and be aware of the way any medications you are taking will interact with alcohol.  The safest option if you have been drinking is simply not to drive.  This could mean establishing a designated driver, calling a taxi, using other modes of public transportation, or staying overnight at a friend’s.

In 2010, a survey found that American drivers as a whole admit to drinking and driving as many as 112 million times.  These drivers not only put themselves in danger, but also their passengers, other drivers and their passengers, and pedestrians.  Distracted driving is completely preventable and can be caused by many factors beyond alcohol consumption.  Safe driving technology from Safe Drive Systems can be your auditory and visual aid, helping you to detect lane departure and potential collisions.  Contact Safe Drive Systems today to learn more.