Drink spills on table

How Alcohol Affects Driving Abilities, According to the NHTSA

We all instinctually know that drinking and driving is dangerous, and yet millions of drivers worldwide will drive while intoxicated each year. To spread some education about drinking and driving dangers, our team of car accident attorneys from McHargue & Jones, LLC in Chicago would like to take a quick look at alcohol impairs a driver’s ability according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

If you have ever thought it might be safe to have just one drink and drive, please read this blog or click here to load a PDF prepared by the NTHSA. If you would never drive after drinking, then please consider sharing this blog with your friends and family. Together, through awareness and good decisions, we can bring the number of drunk driving accidents in a year down to zero.

Four Ways Alcohol Directly Worsens Your Driving Abilities

The NHTSA warns that drinking even just one alcoholic beverage will noticeably worsen your:

  • Vision: Intoxication will worsen your eyesight. Police officers will often test vision-based roadside sobriety tests knowing as much. Drunk drivers who are struggling with blurred or double vision may make unusual lane changes, drift out of their lane, or even brake suddenly when there is no stop sign or traffic signal. According to the NHTSA, vision worsens considerably with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of just 0.02, which occurs in most people after having one beer or shot.
  • Color distinction: In addition to eyesight becoming blurrier due to intoxication, your eyes will also struggle to pick out specific colors. This color distinction issue will only worsen in drivers who already have colorblindness. While driving, most prompts are color-based, such as orange means a construction zone, green means go, and red means stop. Being unable to distinguish one color from the next due to intoxication will greatly increase a driver’s chances of inadvertently driving through a red light, thinking it was green.
  • Reaction time: While driving, you need to be able to react to the world around you in split seconds. You never know when another driver is going to cross into your lane, when traffic will come to an abrupt halt in front of you, when a child will run into the street after a ball, and so forth. Yes, your quick reaction time is crucial for safe driving, but alcohol will limit it. The drowsiness caused by intoxication makes both your thought processes and muscle reactions slower, doubling the severity of the effect.
  • Judgment: Your overall good judgment is jeopardized when you are intoxicated, too. We have all heard stories of people doing ridiculous or dangerous things while drunk that they would never have done while sober, after all. When driving, your judgment is everything. Should you slow at the yellow light? Should you give the motorist next to you more space because they look like they’re on their cellphone? Should you use an alternate route due to heavy traffic ahead? All of these minute-to-minute decisions need your best judgment, which you cannot have if you’re intoxicated.

Have any questions about how to file a car accident claim after being hit by a drunk driver in Chicago or Cook County, Illinois? We can help you make the correct next steps to pursue fair compensation. Call (312) 487-2461 to speak with a member of McHargue & Jones, LLC today.