Everyone knows that drinking and driving is neither safe nor legal. Unfortunately, it’s so common to hear the phrase, “Don’t drink and drive!” that it can be easy to forget all the different ways that it can be dangerous. Brush up on some drinking and driving facts that you may not hear all the time and make sure to stay safe the next time you go out with friends.
What Really Happens When You Drink?
You know that when you drink, you start to feel a little lighthearted, relaxed, happier… do you know what’s actually happening in your body, though? Understanding how alcohol truly affects you through and through is the first step to realizing how dangerous it is to get behind the wheel. When you drink, the following happens:
1. Your brain function slows down.
2. Your reaction time becomes sluggish.
3. Your confidence level is heightened, which means you’re more likely to take dangerous, reckless risks.
4. It becomes difficult to judge both speed and distance, making both moving and stationary objects obstacles.
5. Multi-tasking becomes difficult, which makes driving especially hard to manage, since there’s so much going on when you try to operate a car.
Night vs. Day and Important Statistics
Drivers have a higher chance of being alcohol impaired during the night than during the day. Sound obvious to you? At first it is, but not when you consider the specific times of the night that have the most drunk drivers on the road. As much as 75% of fatal car accidents that happen between midnight and 3 a.m. are in some way connected to alcohol use. Moreover, drunk driving is responsible for one-third of traffic accident deaths in the U.S. Every 40 seconds another person is killed by a person who’s driving drunk.
The Legal Limit and Your Body
Throughout the U.S., you’re considered drunk by the law if your blood-alcohol level is at or above .08. For a man who weighs 170 pounds, he’d have to drink four alcoholic beverages within one hour on an empty stomach to reach that level. For a woman who weighs 140 pounds, she’d have to drink three alcoholic beverages within one hour on an empty stomach. Once you have a blood-alcohol level of .08, it takes six hours for the body to get rid of the alcohol – that means that it’s not one hour to get rid of one drink, like many people assume.
Just because you could pass a cop’s breathalyzer test, that doesn’t mean you’re perfectly fine to get behind the wheel. In order to pass through your body, alcohol dilutes itself. Since some of your body’s organs naturally contain more water than others, alcohol effects each of your organs differently. Your brain is greatly affected by alcohol, particularly your response time. Technically, you can be under the legal limit but still be feeling the effects of drinking. Even a blood-alcohol level of .05 can double your risk of getting into an accident.
Fatalities and Collisions
Ever hear someone say, “I drive fine when I’ drunk!” Don’t believe them – after all, since their judgement and mental clarity are impaired, how would they really know how good of a driver they are when they’re drunk, anyway? A driver that has a blood-alcohol level of at least .08 iseleven times more likely to get into a fatal car accident. Many drivers who are involved in a fatal car accident have a blood-alcohol level of approximately .15, which is almost double the legal limit.
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