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Drinking (Even a Little) + Driving = Not Safe At All

Drinking (Even a Little) + Driving = Not Safe At All

An aggrieved, and angry, brouhaha occurred in the Twittersphere in the past few days after film critic Roger Ebert commented on MTV “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn’s death in a car accident in Pennsylvania on Monday — in which his car went over a guardrail and burst into flames; passenger Zachary Hartwell also died — by writing “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” Ebert has since apologized, the LA Times reports. While it could be weeks before toxicology results are made public, it’s well to say for the gazillionth time, drinking and driving are not a good idea.

A 2010 report by theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that one in five people 16 or older drive within two hours of drinking. A new study in the journal Addiction has found that no amount of alcohol — not the US’s blood-alcohol content (BAC ) of 0.08 — seems to be safe for driving.

University of California, San Diego sociologist David Phillips looked at official data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which contains information on the 1,495,667 people involved in fatal car accidents in the years 1994 to 2008. The database covers all counties, days of the week, times of day and, as Science Daily says, “perhaps most important, reports on blood-alcohol content in increments of 0.01.” More from Science Daily:

“Accidents are 36.6 percent more severe even when alcohol was barely detectable in a driver’s blood,” Phillips said. Even with a BAC of 0.01, Phillips and Brewer write, there are 4.33 serious injuries for every non-serious injury versus 3.17 for sober drivers.

There are at least three mechanisms that help to explain this finding, Phillips said: “Compared with sober drivers, buzzed drivers are more likely to speed, more likely to be improperly seat-belted and more likely to drive the striking vehicle, all of which are associated with greater severity.”

There also seems to be a strong “dose-response” relationship between all these factors, the authors write: The greater the blood-alcohol content, the greater the average speed of the driver and the greater the severity of the accident, for example.

Needless to say, these are sobering findings but they bear repeating, especially with the start of summer and school out — and with teenagers’ mistaken (not that you can tell them that) belief that they’re invincible. (My son is a teenager and he’s disabled, but he’s just like any other teenage boy in thinking he can do anything and be just fine, what’s your problem, Mom?.)

Just a few days ago I wrote about Austin Whitney, who graduated from UC Berkeley on May 14 and was able to walk across the stage thanks to a robotic device. Whitney was paralyzed in a car accident just after his high school graduation; he had been, as he says, drinking and driving.

Drinking and driving –unsafe at any speed — yes. Drinking then driving — not a good idea, period.

Related Care2 Coverage

Sweet Steps: Paralyzed UC Berkeley Student Walks to Get His Degree (VIDEO)

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Are Kids Who Drink With Parents More Likely To Have Alcohol Problems Later?

 

Photo by rob_rob2001.

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53 comments

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3:27AM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

Drinking + Driving = DUH!

It boggles me that so many people every year still don't get this!

6:09PM PDT on Jun 26, 2011

Wasn't Roger Ebert making a jackass out of himself? Doesn't he have any sympathy for the families of the men that died?

6:00AM PDT on Jun 26, 2011

So true No one shell drive when the get drunk

5:16PM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

My brother was killed by a drunk driver. If you want to drink, stay home! If you want to get drunk with other people, then invite them over to your house and let them sleep over. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

8:56AM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

so true

7:18AM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

And maybe Ebert only meant to point out the possibility that maybe the driver was drunk somehow, and somehow inbound flack caused him to realize that somehow he seemed to be passing a judgment and not communicating the possibility, but at least he DID try, anyhow. And nobody can be perfect yet. Also, sit aware that if the stomach is empty both meds and alcohol are directly metabolized. Possible gambit is to research timed release effect involving both a drink and a full plate meal, the same price, and not separates, unless the bar is not just a bar, but a bar-and-GRILL with a separate dining room. But also meals at all times accompanied by drinking in bars? And maybe removal of parking lots and dealing only with foot traffic? But can they easily park elsewhere and walk a bit, get loaded, and get back in the car, etc. and do this again? Also, have input from Chuck Norris filmed on old comedy that one factor in his decision to retire is that barkeeps let very drunken dudes always litter bars anyhow, and while a TX gentleman may be wired to see no objection to stopping at a bar for a whistlewetter, the possibly now former(?) KING OF THE MACHOS always gets these drunks in his face, extremely sloshed and with sloppy physical motions, and trying to win his title, and while HE tries to handle it, somehow no matter what, the bar gets totally torn up and he always gets stuck covering the damages. Just stopping for a social whistlewetter. Or did. But since he's become a born-a

7:10AM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

And maybe Ebert only meant to point out the possibility that maybe the driver was drunk somehow, and somehow inbound flack caused him to realize that somehow he seemed to be passing a judgment and not communicating the possibility, but at least he DID try, anyhow. And nobody can be perfect yet. Also, sit aware that if the stomach is empty both meds and alcohol are directly metabolized. Possible gambit is to research timed release effect involving both a drink and a full plate meal, the same price, and not separates, unless the bar is not just a bar, but a bar-and-GRILL with a separate dining room. But also meals at all times accompanied by drinking in bars? And maybe removal of parking lots and dealing only with foot traffic? But can they easily park elsewhere and walk a bit, get loaded, and get back in the car, etc. and do this again? Also, have input from Chuck Norris filmed on old comedy that one factor in his decision to retire is that barkeeps let very drunken dudes always litter bars anyhow, and while a TX gentleman may be wired to see no objection to stopping at a bar for a whistlewetter, the possibly now former(?) KING OF THE MACHOS always gets these drunks in his face, extremely sloshed and with sloppy physical motions, and trying to win his title, and while HE tries to handle it, somehow no matter what, the bar gets totally torn up and he always gets stuck covering the damages. Just stopping for a social whistlewetter. Or did. But since he's become a born-a

2:03AM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

I suppose the fact that the comment was made before toxicology reports confirm it make it somewhat insensitive and also it does rather afix blame to the friend, who was clearly not the person drinking and driving.

Other than than, it sounds like fair comment to me.

12:27AM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

Ebert apologised to bereaved family and friends 'if' he caused them distress by his comment. He didn't retract his comment. He said he stands by it.

10:21PM PDT on Jun 23, 2011

Right on Patricia A.

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