Driving with a Hangover as Dangerous as Driving Drunk
About the Hangover Studies
Studies conducted by two separate universities, Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the University of the West of England, have produced similar findings concerning driving with a hangover.
In the Utrecht University study, the larger of the two, participants were asked to complete a series of highway-like driving scenarios after having 10 drinks the night before. None of the participants had alcohol in their blood at the time of the tests.
Researchers found that subjects showed conditions often associated with drunk driving such as weaving and an inability to maintain attention to the road. Upon analysis, the researchers determined that the effects were on par with a driver with a blood alcohol content of .05 percent.
The University of the West of England recorded similar results, but in a stop-and-go traffic scenario. Researchers noted that the drivers often committed simple driving errors, had slowed reaction times and tended to increase/decrease their speed in an unsafe manner.
Hungover Driving Enforcement
“We have a law that’s based on blood alcohol concentration. There’s no real way of measuring how hungover someone is, so we’re a bit limited in what we can do.” – Dr. Mark King, Center for Accident Research
While drivers can be cited for the infractions associated with driving with a hangover, there are currently no law prohibiting hungover driving nor will a citation be aggravated through the discovery that a driver is hungover.
The researchers point out that the complications experienced during a hangover are not due to alcohol, but rather the body’s reactions to heavy drinking, comparing the condition to a short-term withdrawal.
With no legal options available, researchers are pushing to raise public awareness that waiting until the morning after a night of heavy drinking to drive may not be enough to ensure safety.
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