I have previously discussed the dangers of drunk driving in this blog because according to recent statistics from the CDC, alcohol is a factor in nearly 1 out of 3 traffic fatalities. New studies indicate that driving hungover might not be a good idea either.

What about hungover driving the next day?

Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that hungover drivers were more impaired than a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05. For the study, each of the nearly 50 volunteers consumed 10 drinks and then underwent simulated driving tests the next day when their BAC was back to zero. Overall, they showed significant lapses in alertness and increases in erratic behavior such as weaving.

A smaller study by the University of the West of England had similar results. Drivers tested the morning after a night of heavy drinking showed poor reaction times, had trouble maintaining a steady speed, and made substantially more driving errors.

These studies confirm a 2008 study by Brunel University in Uxbridge, England. Participants in those tests were hungover, and drove faster, left their lanes more frequently, and committed twice as many traffic violations, running stop signs and red lights. In addition to being hungover researchers felt sleep deprivation, dehydration, and low blood sugar levels all played a role.

Does "sleeping it off" makes you safe to drive after a night of drinking?

In the U.K., new statistics show that "morning after" drunk drivers account for 10% of all drunk-driving arrests. The drivers were pulled over between 6 and 8 a.m., still intoxicated several hours after their last drink.

Do not conclude that a few hours of sleep after a night of drinking will make you ok to drive.

Depending on the amount of alcohol you drink, you can still be over the legal limit the next morning. In an insurance survey, drivers admitted that they do not know how long it takes alcohol to leave the body. Drivers who would never get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol at a bar (and do the right thing by taking a cab, Uber, or Lyft) may still be over the legal limit the next morning without knowing it. It is a false sense of security to think that a shower, some coffee, or a little sleep will eliminate the effects of a night of drinking. The reality is that time is the only thing that will eliminate the alcohol from your system. Often it takes five or more hours after waking up from a night of drinking to be under the legal limit.

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