There is no doubt that drunk drivers put other drivers on the road at risk. However, a new study that was published recently in the journal "Injury Prevention" reveals that even drivers who are "buzzed," but within the legal limit to drive, pose a threat.
After looking at data from hundreds of thousands of collisions in the United States, researchers found that any amount of alcohol in the bloodstream increases a driver's chance of getting into a car accident. For that reason, the researchers concluded that no amount of alcohol is safe when it comes to getting behind the wheel.
In Arizona and the rest of the United States, it's against the law to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08. However, the study pointed out that .08 isn't a "magic" number.
After pouring over crash data from 570,000 crashes between 1994 and 2011, the researchers found that even drivers with a BAC level of .01 were 46 percent more likely than sober drivers to have been solely at fault for an accident. Examples of being "at fault" included driving through a red light or being in the wrong lane.
The study also pointed out that drunkenness is a lot more "linear" than we realize, and even one drink can impair a person's ability to drive, it said. For example, an adult man would need only about half of a can of beer to register a BAC level of .01.
The study concluded that organizations that work to prevent drunk driving should also consider campaigns against buzzed driving.
Source: Reuters, "Buzzed drivers under legal limit still risk car accidents," Kathryn Doyle, Jan. 21, 2014