Experts warn hungover driving is more dangerous than buzzed driving

Date: Nov 28, 2013

Health and safety officials who attended the recent Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs annual conference discussed new research that shows the dangers of driving even the morning after having a few too many.

Drink driving is one of the largest causes of fatal car accident injuries, so experts are doing all they can to eliminate drunk drivers from driving on Australia's roads. Now, enforcement agencies may begin targeting drivers who are suffering from the effects of a serious hangover.

The study, conducted by the University of the West of England, found hungover drivers had poor reaction times, exhibited driving errors and showed carelessness that was worse than drivers who had a blood alcohol content of 0.05.

Chris Alford, a professor at the university and the leader of the research team, said all participants drank heavily the night before the study, but before taking the hungover driving test, none had any alcohol in their system according to a blood-alcohol test.

Another study, conducted in The Netherlands, had volunteers drink 10 drinks one night then asked them to drive on the motorway for one hour the next morning. The results were comparable to the UK study.

"It is called a hangover for a reason because you are still in an impaired state," Mr Alford stated, according to the NSW Daily Telegraph.

NSW officials hope to eliminate car accident injuries

Conference participants cited statistics from the NSW Roads and Maritime Services that show fatigue is the cause of nearly 20 per cent of all fatal crashes in the state.

John Hartley, assistant commissioner of the Traffic and Highway Patrol, stated that all drivers should think twice before driving hungover.

"Even after a good sleep … if you've had a big night it's possible that you could still be over the limit the next morning," Mr Hartley said.

"Even if you're under the limit, fatigue can severely impair your ability to drive safely and responsibly. If you don't feel sharp, awake and alert then don't drive. It's simply not worth the risk."

The studies show that many of the same effects of alcohol are exhibited by hungover drivers, and can cause equally severe car accident injuries. These effects include slower reaction times, a dulled thinking process, lower attention spans and  worse senses such as hearing and sight.

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