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New Study Proves No Safe Amount of Level of Blood Alcohol Behind The Wheel
A new study from the UC San Diego clearly proves there is no “safe” level of blood alcohol when it comes to driving a vehicle.
In light of the new study, published in the journal Addiction, the legal (and allegedly safe) U.S. blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% is no longer a valid guideline. In fact, America’s BAC was more of a “guesstimate” than science-based evidence.
The new evidence proves that:
- Even one drink is more likely to lead to a car crash than no drink at all.
- Every accident involving alcohol — any amount at all — is almost always more severe than accidents involving no alcohol.
For problem drinkers, it’s always time to consider alcohol detox and rehab. But for problem drinkers who insist on driving, it’s seriously time for alcohol detox — right now, before you kill someone — yourself, or others, or both.
Study examined 1.5 million Americans involved in fatal accidents
The UC San Diego study examined data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS. This database includes information on everyone in the U.S. involved in fatal car accidents — 1,495,667 people in the years 1994 to 2008.
The FARS data covers all U.S. counties, all days of the week and all times of day. But most importantly, it includes BAC for each person, in increments of 0.01. This was the data that really cracked open the subject of what really is a safe or not safe BAC.
All the accidents in FARS are severe, because they involve fatalities. But the study authors examined the ratio of severe injuries to more minor ones. And when these were related to BAC levels, their findings were shocking.
Compared with sober drivers, drinking drivers are:
- More likely to speed, and speed increases with higher BAC
- More likely to be improperly seat-belted, also increases with BAC
- More likely to drive the striking vehicle, also increases with BAC
- The higher the BAC, the greater the severity of the accident.
Even more astounding — and frightening — the authors also found that:
- Accidents are 36.6 percent MORE SEVERE even when alcohol was barely detectable in a driver’s blood — even below a 0.01 BAC rating.
- Even with a BAC of 0.01, there are 4.33 serious injuries for every non-serious injury, versus 3.17 for sober drivers.
Up till now, BAC limits have been determined not only by rational considerations and by empirical findings, but also by political and cultural factors, the study authors said. The U.S. standard of 0.08 is relatively recent, and BAC limits vary greatly by country. In Germany, the limit is 0.05; in Japan, 0.03; and in Sweden, 0.02.
“We hope that our study might influence not only U.S. legislators, but also foreign legislators, in providing empirical evidence for lowering the legal BAC even more,” the authors said. “Doing so is very likely to reduce incapacitating injuries and to save lives."
No argument remains that can justify getting behind the wheel after taking a drink. Occasional drinkers have no excuse for driving with even a little alcohol in their system. They don’t have alcohol addiction driving them to drink, so they can’t plead impaired judgment.
But problem drinkers — frequent binge drinkers, heavy party-drinkers and alcoholics — often insist they can drive. They tell themselves “I’m fine, it’ll be fine.” For people like this, people with a real alcohol problem who insist on driving, it’s time to listen to the scientists at UC San Diego: “No, you aren’t fine, and no, it won’t be fine.”
Anyone with any social conscience at all should never get behind the wheel, after even one drink, ever again. If someone you know is an alcohol abuser, seek professional guidance immediately.
For anyone with an alcohol problem, the stakes have been raised to the limit: It’s time to get your life back through a medical alcohol detox program.
NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.
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