Every 50 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-related auto accident. Over the course of one year, that’s 10,000 lives lost because someone chose to get behind the wheel after drinking.

Discover How Differences in Tolerance Lead to Buzzed Driving and Car Accidents

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 73 percent of those questioned said they felt comfortable driving after having one or two alcoholic drinks within a two-hour span. These results are concerning if you consider that alcohol affects everyone differently. One or two drinks may not negatively impact one person, but those same drinks could make another person drunk or buzzed, something that a lot of people don’t completely understand. Being buzzed and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is just as dangerous as being drunk and officials hope to instill this message quickly, especially around New Year’s Eve.

Buzzed Driving Equals Drunk Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been promoting its buzzed driving campaign for years with the goal of getting everyone to realize that even one drink can impact driving ability. It starts with the substance itself, alcohol. As NHTSA officials explain, “Alcohol is a substance that reduces the function of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination.” Legally, someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher is considered legally drunk, but how many drinks it takes each person to reach that limit is dependent on many factors. When it comes to BAC levels and impacts, consider this:

  • An average-sized woman’s BAC level can hit .03 after one drink. A small woman, someone weighing 100 pounds or less, can have a BAC level of .05 after just one drink.
  • Alcohol tolerance is a little higher for men, but a male weighing 160 pounds or less, can reach a BAC level of .05 or higher after just one drink.

So, for those who believe having just one or two drinks in a couple of hours will have no impact on your ability to drive; think again. Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive, but it also impairs your judgment, so being “buzzed” is just as dangerous as being drunk. If you find yourself in this predicament, call a cab, rideshare, or someone who is sober and can pick you up and bring you home.

Nearly 30 People Die Every Day in Alcohol-Impaired Vehicle Crashes

Every 50 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-related crash. Over the course of one year, that’s 10,000 lives lost because someone chose to get behind the wheel after drinking. And, it’s not just adults being killed. Last year, 1,233 children aged 14 and under were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Colorado has been keeping statistics on fatal and injury crashes in the state, and as noted in 2014, state police responded to 3,712 fatal and injury crashes. A majority of those auto accidents, some 70%, were caused by five specific issues. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was the third leading cause of those accidents, right behind excessive speeding and distracted driving.

That’s why Colorado law enforcement continues to hammer the message that even small amounts of alcohol impact your ability to drive. You don’t have to be drunk to be impaired; being buzzed does impact your ability to drive. Even if you never reach the legal limit of .08 BAC, your ability to operate a vehicle safely is impacted way before. According to officials:

  • A .02 BAC leads to some loss of judgment and an altered mood
  • A .05 BAC level leads to exaggerated behavior, trouble focusing your eyes, reduced ability to follow moving objects, and difficulty steering.

One drink is enough to inhibit your reactions, so do not drive once you’ve had a drink, even if you think you are fine. It’s not worth the risk. Call someone who has not been drinking to drive you home safely. Leaving your car where it is will be the best thing you do all night.

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