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Buzzed driving is bad driving, studies show

Most people across the nation have probably done this at least once in their lifetime: driven somewhere after having an alcoholic beverage. Whether it was a glass of wine or a shot of liquor, they probably thought, like most people have in this situation, that they were okay to drive. Because after all, what were the chances that they were even close to the legal limit when they did it?

But as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out in their "buzzed driving is drunk driving" campaign, even a small amount of alcohol can lead to serious or even deadly accidents. It's something that has been backed up by numerous studies over the years, including one conducted this year by UC San Diego in California.

Published in a British medical journal, the study looked at fatal drunk-driving crashes between 1994 and 2011, focusing particularly on a driver's blood alcohol level at the time of the collision. What researchers discovered was that drivers with very low BAC's were 46 percent more likely to cause a fatal drunk driving accident than someone who was completely sober.

This lends credence to a phrase that is often repeated by lawmakers and anti-drunk driving advocates everywhere: there is no amount of alcohol low enough to consider someone safe to drive. It's a phrase likely echoed by our readers here in Indiana who have been affected by this negligent decision to drink and drive.

But as one of UC San Diego's researchers pointed out back in a January news article, "if public policy were determine[d] entirely by scientific evidence, the data justifies not having any alcohol in you at all while driving." Although state laws are dictated by cultural factors that make this relatively impossible to achieve at this time, the hope is that further studies will give weight to this argument, ushering in a new reign of legislation that is truly aimed at keeping innocent drivers safe.

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