Alcohol and driving, a concrete danger

 

Alcool and drive

What’s the matter? It’s just a shot glass!“: How many times have we said or listened to these words? You underestimate very often the combination of alcohol and driving because the abuse gives subtle symptoms that get worse gradually with increasing dose.

Several surveys have underlined the serious consequences of an high BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) as those reported by the European Commission, updated on February 20th, 2012.
Already the debut gives a lot to think about: “around 25% of all fatal accidents in Europe are related to alcohol abuse but the kilometers traveled by drivers with 0.5 grams/liter -or more- of alcohol in the blood are (fortunately) only 1% of the total kilometers traveled“.

A BAC level of 0.8 g/l (legal in 3/25 EU States) multiplies the crash rate by a factor of 2.7 compared to that of sober drivers while a BAC of 1.5 g/l leads to a multiplication by 22.
These data, about the combination between alcohol and driving, refer to the total crash rate but if you consider the fatal accidents the situation gets worse: a BAC level of 1.5 g/l multiplies these data by 220 as opposite to sober drivers!

Even if the alcohol effects are (or should be) well known it’s better to remember them, considering only the first step, when the abuse isn’t excessive: already a BAC of 0.2-0.5 g/l causes a decrease of the quality of some actions like the response time, viewing angle or the identification of obstacles. When the BAC grows, these symptoms increase in intensity causing driving errors which definitely exclude the possibility that the subject gets behind the wheel.
These data refer to alcohol effects on drivers and the consequential accidents against “the sobers”: but what is the incidence of these risk behaviors?

Several interesting results come from a report made by Ford Motor Company in May 2013 in Italy, France, Germany, UK and Spain on a sample of young novice drivers (5,160 in the age group 17-24) and parents of novice drivers (with 4,325 sons between 17 and 24 years old).

Relative_risk_of_an_accident_based_on_blood_alcohol_levels_(linear_scale)

The survey – despite the fact that most of young drivers state that the most important thing is to arrive safe at your destination – shows that 56% admits to exceed the speed limit ; 28% has been involved/ has risked to be involved in an accident; 12% is been involved in an accidents caused by anger or alteration to the guide and 10% admits to have driven under alcohol influence.

Ford launched even in Europe the Driving Skills For Life, a training program to safe driving which has already been successful in the U.S.A. and other countries around the world< ,> and it developed the Drinking Suit to simulate driving while intoxicated.

Anklets and wrist weights ballasted damage the equilibrium, bandages slow down the movements, a headset reduces your hearing while special glasses restrict the field vision and split into two the pictures: the combined effect of these artifices allows you to realize how tied you can be if you drink too much.

These initiatives are of course welcome but they will have a limited impact if everyone doesn’t put in place the only truly effective prevention: awareness (the statistics are clear) that alcohol and driving are NOT compatible!

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