Study: Alcohol consumption and driving do not mix, at any level

A recent study found that consuming any amount of alcohol may increase the likelihood of drivers causing serious or fatal motor vehicle collisions.

Unfortunately, alcohol-related car accidents remain a common occurrence across New Jersey, often resulting in serious injuries or death for those involved. Such collisions may occur despite increasing awareness of the dangers because people have the false perception that they are better drivers after they have had a couple of drinks, that they have not had too much to safely operate their vehicles or for any other number of reasons. However, a recent study found that even buzzed driving is hazardous.

How does alcohol effect the body?

Drinking alcohol may cause people to experience a range of effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the most common of these include the following:

  • Relaxation
  • Diminished judgment
  • Reduced coordination and muscle control
  • Decreased ability to process information
  • Altered perception and visual disturbances
  • Lessened alertness

After consuming as few as two standard-sized drinks, people may begin experiencing these and other effects. As a result, their ability to steer, respond to emergency situations, control their speed, brake appropriately and otherwise safely maneuver their vehicles may be compromised.

Examining the link between BAC level and accident blame

A group of researchers with the University of California, San Diego conducted a study into blood alcohol content levels and accident blame. They aimed to understand the relationship between the degree to which people are deemed responsible for motor vehicle collisions and their BAC levels. To this end, they used information from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting system database. The researchers examined the data for 570,731 fatal auto accidents occurring between 1994 and 2011.

The researchers measured blame in the included crashes by examining over 50 driver factors listed in the FARS database. They focused their analysis on motorists with BAC levels of between 0.01 and 0.07 percent, looking specifically at those with a BAC of 0.01 percent. The study and its findings were published in the Injury Prevention journal.

Drinking and driving is a dangerous combination

Based on their findings, the researchers reported that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe prior to driving. The study showed motorists are 46 percent more likely to be assigned sole blame for an auto accident if they have a BAC of 0.01 percent than if they are sober. There is a smooth increase in the transition from not being responsible to being solely blamed as people's BAC levels increase.

When people are injured in New Jersey alcohol-related accidents, they may suffer serious injuries, requiring extensive medical treatment and time off work to recover. This may lead to undue medical costs and lost income, among other damages. Under some circumstances, the drunk drivers may be held liable for these losses. Thus, those who have been involved in such collisions may find it helpful to discuss their rights and options with an attorney.