Published December 11, 2013
Two new studies indicate that driving with a hangover could be just as dangerous as driving drunk, Medical Daily reported.
In one study, researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the University of the West of England in the U.K. put study participants through a series of driving tests that mimicked highway driving. All of the individuals had consumed an average of 10 drinks the night before.
Although no alcohol was present in the blood of any participants at the time of testing, the subjects demonstrated increased weaving in traffic and a decreased ability to pay attention on the road. Their results were comparable to those of a person who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05.
The second study, conducted by the same researchers, asked participants to undergo a driving test that simulated stop-and-go traffic after a night of drinking, according to Medical Daily. According to researchers, the drivers experienced delayed reaction times and drove at inconsistent speeds.
The researchers said that people experiencing a hangover are undergoing short-term withdrawal from alcohol, combined with other factors like dehydration and sleep deprivation, which can ultimately make driving dangerous. They hope their studies will create awareness about the risks of driving after a night of drinking.
"We have a law that's based on blood alcohol concentration. There's no real way of measuring how hungover someone is. So we're a bit limited in what we can do," said Dr. Mark King, senior researcher at the Center for Accident Research and Road Safety at the Queensland University of Technology. "…All we can really do is provide advice to people and say your driving could be affected just as badly as if you were under the influence of alcohol as when you're hungover.”