Researchers behind two recent studies have revealed that driving hungover can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. One study found that a person with a hangover, but no actual alcohol in their system, drives comparably to a person with a BAC of 0.05 percent.
The first study, out of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, worked by placing study participants through a series of simulated driving tests meant to replicate highway driving conditions. The participants in the study had all consumed at least 10 alcoholic beverages the night before the test.
The researchers say that they tested the blood of participants the morning of the test and confirmed that no alcohol remained in their system at the time of testing. Despite the lack of alcohol, the test revealed that participants weaved in and out of traffic and had a diminished ability to focus their attention on the road in front of them. Scientists say that the driving of those with a hangover was similar to that of a person with 0.05 BAC.
The second study was conducted by researchers at the University of the West of England worked by asking drivers to undergo a test that was meant to mimic stop-and-go traffic conditions. These participants also consumed approximately ten drinks the night prior to the test and were found to have no alcohol in their blood the morning of the exam.
Again, deficiencies in driving were discovered. Researchers say that the drivers showed a decrease in reaction times and that many participants drove at inconsistent speeds, a dangerous behavior that greatly increases the chance of an accident.
Not only did researchers notice the trouble, but they also weighed in on why driving with a hangover might be so dangerous. One theory is that those suffering from a hangover are actually suffering what might be described as a mini withdrawal from alcohol. This withdrawal, combined with other issues like dehydration and lack of sleep, could lead to dangerous driving the next day. Researchers say that they hope their study will raise awareness that the dangers of drinking extend beyond the amount of time that a driver is legally intoxicated.
Researchers point out that all drunk driving laws in existence today revolve around specific percentages of alcohol concentration in a person’s blood and not necessarily around the danger posed by a driver. As a result, it is difficult for law enforcement authorities to crack down on drivers with hangovers. All they can do is warn motorists that their driving might still be impacted the morning after a night of drinking and hope that drivers exercise caution when out and about.
Source: “Driving with a hangover could be as dangerous as drunk driving, studies show,” published at MyFoxDC.com.