April 5, 2017

Alcohol and driving

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How alcohol impacts your ability to drive

Alcohol is a depressant drug. It slows the activity of the central nervous system, including the brain. This can have a huge impact on your ability to drive safely.

Alcohol can affect your driving by causing:

  • drowsiness
  • impaired vision
  • reduced reaction times
  • reduced concentration and vigilance
  • feeling more relaxed and drowsy, which may cause you to fall asleep at the wheel
  • difficulty in understanding sensory information
  • difficulty doing several tasks at once (e.g. keeping in your lane and in avoiding other traffic)
  • failure to obey road rules
  • over-confidence, which may lead to risk taking.

Tips for driving safely

Monitor the number of standard drinks you consume each hour.

Keep track of how much you drink. And if you intend to drive, remember that the safest option is not to drink.

Some people need to drink less to keep their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under 0.05% and drive safely..

Limit your drinking

  • Start with a non-alcoholic drink, and have a non-alcoholic drink (a ‘spacer’) every second or third drink.
  • Avoid topping up your glass. This makes it difficult to keep an accurate track of how much you've had
  • Drink low-alcohol drinks, and avoid mixed drinks like cocktails. It is difficult to tell how much alcohol they contain
  • Avoid drinking in rounds, so you don't feel pressured to keep up with your friends
  • Sip drinks, and avoid salty foods that make you thirsty

Wait for your BAC to drop before driving

The only way to remove alcohol from your system is to allow the body time to process it. Showers, coffee and fresh air will not reduce your BAC.

Your BAC can continue to rise for up to 3 hours after your last drink.

On average, the liver breaks down a little less than one standard drink per hour. Before driving, you should wait at least an hour for each standard drink you've had.

Have a backup plan

If you're in doubt as to how much you've had, don't drive. Always have a backup plan prepared in advance.

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