How does alcohol affect your ability to drive?

Drinking and driving

Driving and alcohol don’t mix. It’s simply a recipe (or a cocktail) for disaster. The dangers of driving whilst under the influence are well documented and include the following:

  • Putting your life at risk
  • Potentially causing the death of someone else
  • Damage to property
  • Damage to your vehicle 
  • Being convicted with a DUI

However, many of us choose to get behind the wheel and refuse to recognise the danger that we’re putting ourselves and others in. Having a DUI on your record has the potential to ruin your career prospects, your ability to retain your job and the financial implications can also be devastating, not forgetting the legal aspect of the process – click here for the DUI rules for Pennsylvania

So, how does drinking alcohol impair your ability to drive? Here we’ll take a look at how your driving skills are impacted.

Your judgment

To drive you need to be able to plan ahead, think clearly, make sensible decisions and make good judgment calls. When you drink alcohol, you compromise all of these driving skills, rendering most of them useless. Simply put, you can’t make the decisions needed to drive safely and not put others in danger. 

Your ability to focus

When you’re driving you need to be able to concentrate on several things at once. Your position on the road, the distance between you and the car in front, road signs, where the kerb is, your speed and how other traffic is positioned on the road. When you have alcohol in your system, you can’t focus on all these things, leaving your incredibly vulnerable and in a dangerous position. 

Your coordination 

Drink enough alcohol and you’ll struggle to walk in a straight line. You may also struggle to touch your nose or stand on one leg without toppling over. When driving, sure, you’re sat down but your coordination is still affected by alcohol. You may not be able to push the pedals at sufficiently, or maybe you’re pressing them too hard, or perhaps your feet are sliding off them. Can you move the gear stick and turn the wheel at the same time? 

Reaction time

Alcohol is a relaxant, which means your reaction time is significantly reduced. This is fine if you’re in the comfort of your own home but behind the wheel? It’s dangerous. On the road things can change in an instant, a child could run into the road, or the car in front could brake suddenly. If you’re inebriated, you simply won’t be able to react in time. 

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