Sometimes you might feel you’re fine to drive; after all you only had a couple of drinks right? However while you might not display any classic signs of intoxication, that doesn’t mean you’re safe to be on the road. Just ask all the other drivers around you what they think! Because it’s other drivers, plus pedestrians, you put at risk when you’re cavalier about DUI. The Australia-wide legal blood alcohol limit of 0.05% has been set for a reason; studies and driver simulation tests have shown that even at this low BAC, driving performance, steering accuracy and breaking performance all begin to decline.
How Does Alcohol Affect My Driving and Why?
While many of us feel like we drive by rote, driving is actually still a complex task and when things get sticky it requires:
- Excellent visual acuity
- The ability to make quick decisions; and
- Fast reflexes
Alcohol is a depressant; it basically slows your brain down, this means when you have just a couple of drinks your body can experience:
- Slower reflexes
- Loss of concentration and focus
- Impaired decision-making ability; and
- Impaired vision – it’s understood that at around 0.05% BAC you start to lose control of small muscles, like those in your eyes, making focussing more difficult
When you compare the above two lists it’s a no brainer that drinking and driving really don’t sync well, especially when things get hairy and you have pedestrians sprinting out in front of you on a poorly lit road (if you’re drink driving, there’s likely pedestrians drink walking!)
The Damage DUI Does…
It’s hard to forget this crash from early 2020, where a man killed four children on their way to the shops to buy ice cream; he was charged with high range drink driving. But the reality is that drink driving crashes are an all-too common occurrence on Australian roads with about 30% of road deaths in Australian involving alcohol (based on data published by The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics). It’s important too not just to focus on the people killed by drink drivers, but the many more who are seriously and often permanently injured. Rates of injuries sustained in car accidents have been increasing since 2001 and they are more than 20 times higher than death rates.
Ways to Avoid DUI
So what can you do? You know the answer: never make travel plans when intoxicated and never drive a car with alcohol in your blood. It’s safest to simply avoid putting yourself or your friends in that position. If you know you are going to drink:
- Pre-arrange a lift before heading out or designate a driver
- Better yet, be the designated driver yourself. Give your liver a break for a weekend and ride the wave of popularity with your friends
- Make sure water is readily available if you’re hosting an event; circulate platters of water much as you would circulate platters of champagne or wine
- Make sure your guests have safe options to get home; be proactive about ordering Ubers or pairing up people you know live on the same side of town