Dallas, TX- Most of us are aware that driving under the influence alcohol is dangerous, but few of us think about how good our driving skills are when we are nursing a major hangover. We may be making a huge mistake since two separate studies show that driving with a hangover is just as dangerous as intoxicated driving.
Two researchers, Professor Chris Alford of the University of the West of England and Assistant Professor Joris Verster of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, conducted complementary studies to determine the effects a hangover had on person’s driving skills.
In the UK study, participants who drank heavily the night before drove on a closed course for 20 minutes. The participants were presented with urban and rural settings in which there were a number of common driving hazards such as pedestrians in a road simulation test. Researchers aimed to recreate the driving obstacles people normally face in their morning commute, according to Medical Express.
Researchers noted that there were significant increases in speed variations, slowed reaction times, driver errors and shifting driving positions for hangover drivers. They concluded that even though the alcohol is a drivers system is gone they are prone to the same mistakes as drunk drivers.
“This simulation represented a situation many people can relate to. They may already be aware of not driving home after a night out drinking, but we also need to advise them to plan for the next day so they won’t be driving to work impaired,” Professor Alford said.
Professor Alford recommends that the public be aware of the risks of driving with a hangover can have and should be included in public safety campaigns.
In the corresponding, Dutch, study, volunteers, who had consumed 10 drinks or more, were asked to participate in a one-hour simulated driving test. They used and group of volunteers but came up with similar results to the UK study.
Participants, who drove after a night of drinking, showed increased lapses in their attentiveness along with deviations or weaving on the course. The driving tests were conducted when the participant’s blood reached a .00 blood alcohol level, but their driving showed impairment similar to those who have BAC over the legal limit to be considered intoxicated.
The driving skills of participants who were hung over were compared to participants who did not drink the night before the test.
This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has had a hangover since everything seems like a chore with a pounding headache, dehydration, fatigue and decreased concentration that accompanies a serious hangover. These two studies however can shed some light on the long-term effects alcohol can have our ability to drive and encourage some dangerous drivers to stay off the roads.
While you won’t get a DUI for driving with a hangover, you can still face a serious traffic violation or at worst a criminal charge if you cause a deadly or injurious accident and the “I had a hangover” defense wouldn’t work very well in your favor.