Driving With a Hangover Is More Dangerous Than Driving Drunk
Two new studies find that driving with a hangover is even riskier than driving drunk. International research shows that a hangover can affect a driver’s concentration, reaction time and general driving ability, as Michelle Duff writes for Drive.com.au.
Associate Professor Dr. Chris Alford, of the University of the West of England, and Dr. Joris Verster from Holland’s Utrecht University, recently presented their findings from separate studies at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol & other Drugs (APSAD) conference in Brisbane, Australia, as ABC News reports.
In Alford’s study, 20 drivers were asked “to drink heavily in the name of science” and then undertake simulated driving tests when they were sober the next day, ABC News writes. The tests required them to attempt a stop-and-start, commute-to-work type drive, Duff writes.
ABC News quotes Alford:
‘Things like their speed of reaction was slowed down, their variability in the way they drive was more erratic when they had a hangover,’ he said.
‘We also found that they’re making errors [in] things like crossing the central lines, the lane markings in the road.
‘So you could say their driving was as if they were over the legal limit of alcohol but of course they didn’t have that alcohol on board anymore.’
Although the 20 drivers were clean to drive in terms of blowing a breathalyser, “actually they were really quite impaired,” Alford told Duff. Symptoms of a hangover vary from person to person and occasion to occasion, Verster said in an audio file appearing on the ABC News page.
‘If you give your poor old brain a knock with the booze, it takes a while to get up to speed again. We’re beginning to understand that, when it comes to our brains, alcohol and drugs have a lasting effect.
‘The significant impairments seen here, after a relatively short driving duration reflecting a typical commute to work and using a more mentally demanding driving environment, represent a new finding,’ he told TVNZ.
In the Dutch study, volunteers were given 10 drinks and then tested as they drove for an hour the next day, ABC News reports. As in Alford’s study, the drivers’ blood alcohol levels were back to normal, but their hangovers were adversely affecting their driving, Verster said, adding: “Driving was much worse when they had a hangover when we compared it to our results from previous studies [of drunk drivers],” he said.
Alford said there are biochemical tests that will tell a person if he or she is still affected by a hangover. However he believes that the best course of action is to educate people not to drive if they have a hangover, ABC News writes.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2010. Those accidents comprised nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
Image by Annie Mole.