Driving With a Hangover: Just as Dangerous as Driving Drunk, Studies Show

We all know drinking and driving is bad. But there is an erroneous assumption that if you can just “sleep it off,” you’ll wake up sober and ready to be a safe driver. drinkinggirl

But research has shown that driving with a “hangover” can actually be just as dangerous as driving drunk, with equal levels of fatigue and reduced reaction times. Beyond that, it’s fairly common for someone who drank heavily the night before to wake up still drunk. Both scenarios, it turns out, are quite hazardous to the driver and those with whom they share the road.

Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the University of West of England in the United Kingdom put it to the test when they selected a group of participants to measure their skill levels after consuming an average of 10 drinks the night before. What they found was that despite the fact that there was technically no alcohol detected in participants’ bloodstreams, their driving ability mimicked that of someone with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05.

In another study, conducted by these same analysts, participants were asked to see how well they performed in a traffic simulator that simulated stop-and-go traffic. Here again, participants consumed an average of 10 drinks the night before. What they discovered was that drivers moved their vehicle at inconsistent speeds. They also experienced extremely delayed reaction times, which left them more likely to be involved in a rear-end collision. 

So what’s happening here?

In the case of a person suffering a hangover, the researchers said there is a combination of factors that contribute to a driver being unsafe. Those include:

  • Short-term withdrawal from alcohol;
  • Sleep deprivation;
  • Dehydration.

Researchers asserted the need for further study of the effects of driving while hungover.

As far as our Charlotte injury lawyers are concerned, there is no real way to ascertain or measure exactly how hungover someone is. However, it seems clear that similarly to drunk driving, those affected may not realize how severely they are impaired.

And as one story not long ago highlighted, a night of drinking often isn’t so easily “slept off.”

WKYZ.com in Detroit details the account of a woman who thought she had been a responsible drinker. After consuming several drinks out with friends – about six between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. – she made sure to have a designated driver bring her home.

Once she got home, she slept for about six hours before rising to go to work. As she was driving, she was pulled over by a police officer. She wasn’t all that concerned because she hadn’t had anything to drink since she left the bar the night before. Yet, when she took a breathalyzer test, her blood-alcohol level was over the 0.08 legal limit. In fact, she blew a 0.10. Medical doctors explained to reporters that consuming six drinks in three hours, for someone of her size, would have put her BAC at about 0.22, a number that would decline by about 0.02 every hour. That would have meant she needed at least a few more hours of sleep for the effects to wear off enough for her to pass a breathalyzer.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Driving With A Hangover Just As Dangerous As Drunk Driving, With Equal Fatigue, Slow Reaction Times, Dec. 9, 2013, By Chris Weller, Medical Daily

More Blog Entries:

Countryway Ins. Co. v. United Financial Cas. Ins. Co. – Fighting for Uninsured Motorist Coverage, Sept. 7, 2016, Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Charlotte

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