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.

Let nature play a role in climate adaptation, experts urge: TRFN

Delegates take notes during a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 13, 2014.

Read More »

U.N. talks agree building blocks for new-style climate deal in 2015

Delegates listen as COP 20 President and Peru's Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal makes an announcement during a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 12, 2014.

Read More »

Paris climate summit faces tougher job after modest Lima deal

Delegates talk during a break at a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 12, 2014.

Read More »

Fractures are major cause of older women’s hospitalizations

Fractures are major cause of older women’s hospitalizations

Read More »

Cost of not supporting breastfeeding may be millions

Cost of not supporting breastfeeding may be millions

Read More »

Taking HIV prevention pill may not encourage risky sex: U.S. study

Taking HIV prevention pill may not encourage risky sex: U.S. study

Read More »

Sony hacking highlights challenge to CEO Hirai's 'One Sony' vision

An entrance gate to Sony Pictures Entertainment at the Sony Pictures lot is pictured in Culver City, California April 14, 2013.

Read More »

Amazon workers strike in Germany as Christmas orders peak

A Verdi union scarf is seen outside the Amazon logistics centre in Graben near Augsburg December 15, 2014.

Read More »

U.S. faces tough questions in Apple e-books antitrust appeal

A general view of an Apple store in the Manhattan borough of New York September 7, 2014.

Read More »

Ebola toll in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia reaches 6,583: WHO

Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) prepare to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun July 20, 2014.

Read More »

Shock treatment: what's missing from Sierra Leone's Ebola response

World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward gestures during a news conference on the WHO response and challenges to control the Ebola outbreak at the United Nations in Geneva December 1, 2014.

Read More »

Top court rejects Arizona appeal over abortion drug law

People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington November 10, 2014.

Read More »

Real Time Analytics