People who operate a motor vehicle while hungover are just as dangerous to other drivers and pedestrians as drunk drivers, according to a recent study. The study, conducted by Utrecht University researchers and headed up by a university psychopharmacologist, Joris Verster, discovered that “hungover” people with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0% presented the same level of driving impairment as drunk drivers.
The researchers stated that people develop a hangover when their BAC blood alcohol concentration (BAC) returns to 0%. Hangovers are described as a feeling of overall misery, which can last up to 20 hours following the last alcoholic beverage. According to the study, the amount of driving impairment during a hangover is comparable to a BAC of 0.05% to 0.08%. Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is illegal in all 50 states and in most countries.
The research participants included a total of 24 women and 24 men. The participants were given two driving tests. They were given one test following a night without consuming drugs or alcohol and another driving following a night of “hard partying.”
On the morning of heavy drinking, the hungover participants were given a breathalyzer test to ensure their BAC levels were at 0% before they were allowed to start the driving test. On average, study participants consumed ten alcoholic beverages the night before.
The driving test was simple. The test subjects were instructed to stay in the right-hand lane, obey the posted speed limit, and drive for one hour. The driving tests utilized driving simulators for safety purposes.
According to the results of the test, even though the drivers had a BAC of 0%, their driving appeared to be as bad as an intoxicated driver. The study found that the drivers with a hangover showed the same driving as a driver over the legal limit. The hungover drivers touched street lines and were weaving in and out of their lane.
Also, the hungover study participants noticed that they were not driving well. The study participants stated that they noticed their driving was much worse and less safe than if they had not been drinking alcohol the night before. Also, test subjects further stated they were significantly tenser as they were driving, and they had to put in more effort to perform the driving test.”
The study suggests that nausea and discomfort during a bad hangover were distracting to the drivers. However, the study results were unable to demonstrate that there is any evidence of a connection between the severity of a hangover and driver impairment. The study also did not find a relationship between how much alcohol consumed the night before caused driving impairment the next day.
The study also suggests that when people do not get enough sleep, they tend to drive increasingly worse. Participants reported that they received about 90 minutes less sleep on average than in the control condition.
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