LEGAL DRIVING LIMIT: Half of drinkers don’t know when they’ve reached the drinking and driving limit


CAMBRIDGE, UK ( – People who drink often know when alcohol starts to ‘go to their head’ and they should stop. However, impaired driving laws set the bar for intoxication much lower than that. Now, a new study finds that half of drinkers can’t tell when they’ve reached the limit to legally drive after consuming alcohol.

Road accidents have become the leading cause of death among young people aged 5 to 29, with alcohol being one of the main causes.

“In countries where alcohol limits are legal, it is usually the driver who judges the amount of alcohol he has drunk and his ability to drive”, explains the author of the study, the Dr Kai Hensel, in an academic press release.

“But as we have shown, we are not always good at making this judgment,” continues Hensel. “Up to one in two people in our study underestimated how drunk they were – and that can have devastating consequences. “

Do you know when you have had enough?

Researchers conducted a two-day experiment involving 90 students in Germany to determine whether participants knew when to stop drinking before driving. The team divided the students into two groups, giving them beer or wine until they reached Britain’s maximum breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) of 0.11.

The drunk driving limit in Germany is 0.05, which is 0.03% lower than in the UK. The limit is 0.08 in the United States.

Participants were told they would switch from beer to wine or vice versa once they hit 0.05%, but not that this was the legal driving limit. Researchers used breathalyzers to keep track of the amount of alcohol consumed by students throughout exercise. On each measurement, participants were asked to guess the concentration of alcohol in their breath and to manifest themselves once they thought they had reached the driving limit.

More than a third of students (39%) were over the drinking and driving limit at the time they spoke. On the second day, this proportion rose to more than half (53%). In addition, the more alcohol the students consumed, the more difficult it was for them to guess their level of intoxication.

“This could have serious consequences in England and Wales, where the legal driving limit is higher, as it suggests that a significant number of people could misjudge how drunk they are and consider themselves fit to drive. when in fact they have a potentially dangerously high level of alcohol in their blood, ”Hensel says.

Finding better ways to monitor poisoning

Their findings could help find new and more effective ways to reduce the number of deaths from impaired driving accidents.

“Drunk driving is a major risk factor for road accidents. Anything that can be done to reduce these numbers is worth trying. With advice, our participants were able to improve their judgment. It may be that ephemeral stands set up around drinking establishments to help people understand their breath alcohol concentration can help, ”explains the author of the study.

The study authors note that the amount of alcohol people can drink before leaving safely depends on a wide range of factors.

“Really the best advice is if you’re driving just don’t drink. But if you really feel like drinking, take a look at your own alcohol tolerance. It differs from person to person, depending on your gender, weight and age, and there are some reliable apps that can guide you, ”concludes Hensel.

The results are published in the Harm Reduction Journal.

South West News Service writer Tom Campbell contributed to this report.

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