Every Extra Drink Makes You More Likely To Crash

For most of us who’ve been driving for a few years it seems so natural that we might be tempted to think that we’re probably OK to drive when we’ve had a few drinks.

Well the reality is very different. While it might seem like second nature, driving is always a complex task requiring coordination, reflexes, judgement and concentration and they’re the very things that are badly affected by alcohol.

Your ability to drive is affected from the moment you start drinking, with the legal limit set at .05 across Australia. The more you drink, the worse your driving gets, while the chance of crashing rises rapidly.

Here’s how drinking affects driving performance according to Drinkwise Australia:

Blood Alcohol Content
Affect of alcohol on driving performance
.02-.05
Reduced ability to see or locate moving lights
Reduced ability to judge distances
Increased tendency to take risks
Decreased ability to respond to several stimuli
.05
Twice as likely to crash than at 0.00 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)
.05-.08
Ability to judge distance is further reduced
Impaired sensitivity to red lights
Slower reactions
Shorter concentration span
0.08
5 times more likely to crash than at 0.00 BAC
0.08-0.12
Overestimate abilities
Euphoria sets in
Reckless driving
Impaired peripheral vision (danger of hitting vehicles while passing)
10 times more likely to crash than at 0.00BAC

So how do you know how much alcohol is too much, to stay under the legal limit? Well standard drinks are a useful guide.

To stay under .05 men should stick to 2 standard drinks in the first hour, followed by 1 standard drink per hour after that.

Women’s bodies tend to absorb alcohol faster than men’s, so women should stick to 1 standard drink in the first hour, followed by 1 standard drink per hour after that.

That’s a bit of a rough guide and some people will be more affected by alcohol and reach a higher BAC faster if they’re not healthy, drinking on an empty stomach, or if they’re small or overweight. So the golden rule is if you’re in any doubt always drink less.

Go easy on the wine! It’s stronger than you think. Most people overestimate how much is in a standard glass of wine, so to stay safe count half a glass of wine as 1 standard drink.

And if you’re still tempted to drink and drive and you reckon you’ll get away with it, just remember this: Everyone who’s ever been picked up by a Booze Bus or an RBT or been asked to blow into the breathalyser after an accident reckoned they were going to get away with it too. They didn’t, and there’s every chance you won’t get away with it either.

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