Driving with hangover as bad as drink driving – study
December 12, 2013   //   Lifestyle   //   Comments are off

Getting behind the wheel while hungover could be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, according to new research.

The Dutch study has revealed the risks of driving the day after a big night on the booze – even when alcohol can no longer be detected in a person’s blood.

Healthy volunteers participated in simulated highway driving tests the night after a drinking session which averaged about ten alcoholic drinks.

The tests were performed after the participants’ blood alcohol concentration (BAC) had returned to zero.

Compared to the same tests after a night of not drinking, the results showed a hangover could significantly increase the number of lapses in attention and driving course deviations or weaving.

Utrecht University’s Dr Joris Verster said people should be warned about the potential risks of driving hungover, and that ‘hangover immunity’ is largely a myth.

"The magnitude of driving impairment is higher than that observed with a BAC of 0.05%, which is the legal limit for driving in many countries," he said.

The research was presented today at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) 2013 Conference.

There were similar results in a UK study, where participants undertook a 20-minute simulation of driving in urban and rural settings.

Significant increases in speed variability, reaction time, driving errors and deviation from driving position were recorded when the participants were hung-over.

Professor Chris Alford, from the University of the West of England, said the findings that driving performance was adversely affected by hangovers should be incorporated into driver safety campaigns.

"The significant impairments seen here, after a relatively short driving duration reflecting a typical commute to work and using a more mentally demanding driving environment, represent a new finding," he said.

And most people can expect to be adversely affected by hangover symptoms such as thirst and dehydration, drowsiness and fatigue, headache and problems concentrating, other research found.

While some people claim to be immune to developing a hangover, a Canadian study of almost 800 university students suggests that the vast majority of drinkers are susceptible and the impact is largely related to the degree of alcohol intoxication.

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