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“Duh” Survey Realizes Distractions Make Drunk Drivers Even More Dangerous

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Male distracted driver on cell phone study dangerous driving

Who knew being distracted by your phone while driving drunk makes you even more dangerous?!

For years we’ve had PSAs and state laws reminding us that drunk driving is dangerous—because, looking at the statistics, it clearly is. Alcohol impairs our ability to react, concentrate, and make wise decisions.

We’ve also been told, as technology develops at an exponential rate, that distracted driving is equally dangerous. Focusing on a cell phone instead of the road causes drivers to lose focus and risk endangering themselves and those around them.

But would you believe that driving drunk and driving distracted at the same time is even more dangerous?

Yeah, you probably assumed that by now, like the rest of us.

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However, assuming that all people are inherent skeptics, a University of Kentucky study determined how distractions cause intoxicated drivers to control their vehicles.

Because lawmakers are considering lowering the maximum legal blood-alcohol rate in the hopes of preventing more accidents, Nicholas van Dyke and Mark Filmore wanted to determine if distracted driving still affects driving performance while intoxicated. Their study examines the degree to which distractions influence the ability of intoxicated drivers to safely control their vehicles.

“A clearer understanding of how common distractions impact intoxicated drivers, especially at blood alcohol concentrations that are currently legal for driving in the United States, is an important step to reducing traffic accidents and fatalities and improving overall traffic safety,” stated the researchers.

The researchers put 50 adult participants through a virtual driving simulator, each of whom had a drink of alcohol. The participants were monitored for their ability to adjust the steering wheel to remain on the road and respond to red circles on the windshield.

As one would expect, driving while distracted and drunk is twice as dangerous as either influence separately. The survey concluded that text messages and infotainment displays are too distracting for drivers to handle, even if under the legal alcohol limit.

Perhaps this would be a noteworthy report had the findings revealed the opposite of what we expected, but these results are far from shocking. You can read about them in Springer’s Journal of Psychopharmacology or Captain Obvious’s list of “duh” studies.

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News Sources:  Eurekalert