It is encouraging to know that since the 1980s, alcohol-related deaths on our highways have continued to decrease, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, the NIH also reports that alcohol is still related to 40 percent of all traffic deaths in the U.S. Learning how alcohol affects driving skills makes it easier to understand that even a small amount of alcohol can impair your abilities.
The BAC connection
The amount of alcohol present in your body is known as blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. It is determined by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood, a measurement that can be analyzed within 30 to 70 minutes after you take a drink. The more you drink, the higher your BAC number. If you are pulled over on the suspicion of drunk driving, this number will be essential: the legal BAC threshold is set at .08 percent.
Factors that contribute to your BAC level
In addition to the number of drinks you have, how fast you consume them also has a bearing on your BAC level. Consuming alcohol quickly makes you reach a higher BAC faster than if you were to stretch your consumption out over time. Alcohol absorption will be slowed, however, if you have some food in your stomach. So when you are drinking, it is a good idea to have something to eat. Interestingly, the more you weigh, the lower your BAC will be. This is because heavier people have more water in their bodies, and water will dilute the alcohol.
How alcohol affects driving skills, including impaired motor and cognitive skills
Alcohol consumption is likely to impair your motor skills as well as your cognitive functions. It will affect your reaction time, your vision-night vision, especially-and your depth perception. Your eye-hand-foot coordination will not be nearly as sharp as when you are sober. Your ability to process information slows down when you are under the influence of alcohol, which means you may not be able to judge the speed of an oncoming vehicle or correctly gauge the distance between your car and the car in front of you. Drinking might give you a false sense of confidence, but the reality is that your ability to make rational decisions will slow down along with your physical reaction to situations that arise.
Take the high road
When you are planning to attend an event where alcohol will be served, think about how alcohol affects driving skills and impacts your ability to drive safely. Consider alternatives, such as taking public transportation, appointing a designated driver for the evening or making arrangements to stay the night instead of risking the drive back home.
Steer clear of an erratic driver
If you feel you are sharing the road with someone who appears to be drunk based on erratic driving maneuvers, such as tailgating or weaving between lanes, try to keep your distance. Unfortunately, you could find yourself involved in an accident with a drunk driver despite your best efforts to avoid such an incident. If this should happen to you, remember that you can seek the help of an attorney experienced in auto accident and personal injury cases.