10th December, 2013 by Andy Young
New research claims that a hangover can impair driving performance as much as driving under the influence of alcohol.
Scientists at universities in the UK and the Netherlands found that the effects of a night’s heavy drinking last longer than a measurable blood alcohol concentration.
Researchers tested people who had been drinking the night before and made them take a 20-minute simulation of driving in a mixed urban and rural setting.
The study found the participants had significant increases in speed variability, reaction time, driving errors and deviation from driving position.
Associate professor Chris Alford, who led the Bristol-based study, said that motorists should be warned of the dangers of driving while hungover as part of driver safety campaigns.
“This was a naturalistic design of study, aiming to better reflect what happens in real life when people go to work the next day after drinking,” he said.
“The significant impairments seen here, after a relatively short driving duration reflecting a typical commute to work and using a more mentally demanding driving environment, represent a new finding.
“This simulation represented a situation many people can relate to. They may already be aware of not driving home after a night out drinking, but we also need to advise them to plan for the next day so they won’t be driving to work impaired.”
Pete Williams, from the RAC, told the Press Association: “The first thing to bear in mind is that if you’ve been drinking the night before you may still be over the drink-drive limit in the morning.
“Police recently reported a 4% year-on-year increase in 2012 of people being arrested for being over the limit the morning after.
“We strongly urge anybody thinking about enjoying a drink this Christmas to leave the car at home and given the results revealed in this study which suggest that a hangover can have a similar negative effect on a motorist’s ability to drive, people should either use public transport or get a lift from someone who isn’t hung over instead of driving themselves the next morning.”
Last month we reported that the figures show that the number of people arrested by police for drink driving on the “morning after” is increasing.