How Alcohol Affects Driving Skills
With the holiday season approaching, parties and events mean more alcohol than most people are used to. While it may not seem like a simple toast of champagne or seasonal eggnog could do much harm, the effects of even one glass of alcohol can vary widely depending on each person’s genetics and external factors, like how much he or she has eaten. Driving skills are often quickly affected in a variety of ways, making it important to either avoid alcohol, designate a driver or hire a cab to keep you and those around you safe this year. Here are some of the ways that driving skills are affected.
While everyone has seen someone who is so drunk they cannot walk to their car without falling, coordination can be affected in similar ways on a much smaller scale. Even gross motor skills like moving your foot to the brake can be slightly slower when alcohol is on board. This can have a significant reduction in reaction speeds in the face of an accident. The University of Texas and San Antonio stated that a reduction of between 15 and 25 percent can occur in some cases.
Alcohol reduces the clarity of sight, sound and thought. This means that reaction time is further decreased as a person spends more time making decisions that should be second nature. Often they don’t make the correct choice at all, but in a situation involving vehicles traveling at high speeds, a split-second increase can mean impact. Physical changes have also been apparent in those drinking alcohol. Tunnel vision can occur, making it impossible for drivers to see objects in their periphery. It can also be harder to avoid the glare of passing headlights when pupils become dilated. Sound directions are also less distinct in the ears of those who have become intoxicated, making it hard to determine where certain noises are coming from.
Situations, signs and signals can be confusing to drivers under the influence of alcohol. In addition to a lack of mental clarity, drivers may also lack the ability to interpret messages conveyed to them. This is one reason why it is so important to have a ride home arranged before ever taking that first sip. Once alcohol has been drunk, it may be difficult for drinkers to realize how drunk they are and to understand how hard it will be to drive a vehicle.
Give yourself and other drivers on the road the gift of safety this holiday season by staying off the streets while under the influence of alcohol. A little preparation beforehand can save a life when it comes to drinking and driving.