Pregnancy, Babies, Parenting News & Tips

Nearly a Fifth of Designated Drivers are Impaired

By Staff Reporter / Jun 10, 2013 09:09 AM EDT
  • Nearly a Fifth of Designated Drivers are Impaired
  • (Photo : Flickr) Nearly a Fifth of Designated Drivers are Impaired

They may volunteer to be the one to get their friends home safely, but "designated drivers" often drink-even to a level that impairs them behind the wheel, according to a report in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Like Us on Facebook

The study, of more than 1,000 bar patrons, found that approximately 40 percent of designated drivers had downed alcohol. What's more, most of those drinkers had blood alcohol levels that could impair their driving.

It's not clear why those designated drivers drank despite their role. Some of them might think that as long as they don't feel drunk they are all right to drive, says lead researcher Adam Barry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

"People do try to use that as a measuring stick," he says. "But alcohol is insidious." That is, your driving skills are already impaired before you feel the "buzz" that tells you you've indulged too much.

"If you're going to be a designated driver, you should abstain from alcohol use completely," Barry says.

For the study, Barry's team went out into a college bar district six distinct nights (10:00 p.m.-2:30 a.m.) over three months, recruiting bar patrons as they exited drinking establishments. Ultimately, 1,071 people agreed to be interviewed and take alcohol breath tests-including 165 who said they were the designated driver.

About 40 percent of those drivers had been drinking. On breath tests, 17 percent had blood alcohol levels between .02 and .05 percent, while 18 percent were at .05 percent or higher.

Although people can legally drive with a blood alcohol level up to .08 percent, studies have found that alcohol begins to dull people's driving skills at a blood level of .02 percent. By .05 percent, the ability to drive safely is clearly impaired.

Of course, Barry notes, it's best for any driver-not just designated drivers-to refrain from drinking. But it may be particularly risky when a designated driver imbibes, because he or she will have a carload of drunken passengers.

"They may be loud, or start roughhousing. They're a distraction," Barry says. Couple all of that with the fact that most people drink at night, when any driver's vision is diminished, and you have a potential recipe for disaster, according to Barry.

A number of studies have found that designated-driver campaigns, although popular, have done little to actually prevent drunk driving. If trends like the one in this study continue, the researchers say, designated-driver campaigns will probably continue to disappoint.

© 2014 ParentHerald.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Texas nurse stricken with Ebola: young and caring

Members of the Protect HazMat team prepare to enter the apartment of the health worker who was infected with the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas October 13, 2014.

Read More »

Boston patient does not appear to have Ebola, hospital says

1 of 5. Ambulance workers wearing protective gear load a patient with possible Ebola symptons into the back of an ambulance at the Harvard Vanguard facility in Braintree, Massachusetts October 12, 2014 in this still image from video.

Read More »

Texas health worker becomes first person to contract Ebola in U.S.

1 of 4. A metal barrel containing contaminated belongings of a health worker at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who has contracted Ebola is in front of the health worker's residence in Dallas, Texas, October 12, 2014.

Read More »

Conjoined twin Texas babies to take first step to separation surgery

1 of 3. Conjoined twins Knatalye Hope Mata (front) and Adeline Faith Mata are pictured at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston in this July 25, 2014 handout photo obtained by Reuters October 9, 2014.

Read More »

New Jersey officials order 'symptom-less' NBC News crew into Ebola quarantine

Members of an NBC News crew who worked with a cameraman who contracted Ebola in Liberia have been quarantined, New Jersey health officials said on Saturday.

Read More »

U.S. military faces new kind of threat with Ebola

1 of 3. A soldier goes through the decontamination process with U.S. Army soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who are earmarked for the fight against Ebola, take part in training before their deployment to West Africa, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky October 9, 2014.

Read More »

Las Vegas sounds false alarm as global Ebola fears spread

A commercial plane was briefly quarantined on a Las Vegas airport tarmac on Friday, sending airline shares down as worldwide fears increased that Ebola could spread outside West Africa, where it has killed more than 4,000 people.

Read More »

U.S. begins enhanced Ebola screening program at New York's JFK airport

A video journalist films a sign asking patients to inform staff if they have fever, cough, trouble breathing, rash, vomiting or diarrhea symptoms and have recently traveled internationally or have had contact with someone who recently traveled internationally at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York October 8, 2014.

Read More »

U.S. Republican Senator still undecided on Ebola funding increase

Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (C) talks to media after departing a closed hearing on Iraq and Afghanistan in Washington July 8, 2014.

Read More »

Fears grow in United States over Ebola's spread outside West Africa

A sign asks patients to inform staff if they have fever, cough, trouble breathing, rash, vomiting or diarrhea symptoms and have recently traveled internationally or have had contact with someone who recently traveled internationally at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York October 8, 2014.

Read More »

Ebola patient dies in Texas; five U.S. airports to screen for fever

The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States died on Wednesday, underscoring questions about the quality of care he received, and the government ordered five airports to start screening passengers from West Africa for fever.

Read More »

Obamacare website likely ready for record-breaking traffic: official

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration.

Read More »

Real Time Analytics