Hungover motorists as risky as driving drunk

Last updated 05:02 27/11/2013

Relevant offers


Sir Colin Meads weighs in on NZ's 'harden up' mentality amid battle against cancer 94-year-old Wellington woman waits three months for caregiver after displacing hip Kapiti blamed for missing Otaki health votes Cancer encounter inspires photographic success for UCOL student Green light for new Akaroa health centre CAPS Hauraki Safe Kids message seen by more than five million Rural health academic centre for Ashburton Hospital Cancer patient urges women to investigate their mammogram options Capital & Coast DHB tackles waste mountain in a bid to improve recycling Obese man challenges himself (and mum) to a 60 day juice cleanse - loses 11kg in four days

Killer hangovers could be just that, according to new research into the effects of driving the day after.

Getting behind the wheel while hungover - even when there is no trace of alcohol in your blood - can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, two studies have found.

International research presented today at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs conference, being held in Brisbane, says hangovers can wreak havoc on concentration, reaction time, and general driving ability.

In a Dutch study, people were asked to drive for an hour in a simulation that recreated 100kmh motorway conditions, after downing an average of 10 drinks the night before.

The test began only once each of the 47 participants recorded a zero blood alcohol level. Beforehand, the drivers rated their hangovers out of 10, depending on how thirsty, drowsy, or sore they felt. They also did the same test on a normal day.

Researchers at the Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences found that hung-over people were significantly worse drivers, weaving across the road and losing attention at the same rate as people with an alcohol level of 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood - the limit that New Zealand has recently adopted.

A second study, led by University of the West of England associate professor Chris Alford, had the same results when 20 drivers attempted a more varied, stop-start "commute to work" drive.

"They were clean to drive in terms of blowing a breathalyser, but actually they were really quite impaired," Prof Alford said.

"We found people's reactions slowed . . . It was a mixed bag of general driving control and making more errors, swinging from side to side and going over white lines.

"If you give your poor old brain a knock with the booze, it takes a while to get up to speed again. We're beginning to understand that, when it comes to our brains, alcohol and drugs have a lasting effect."

AA spokesman Dylan Thomsen said the findings emphasised the importance of driving responsibly.

Otago University of Wellington associate professor Nick Wilson said studies had shown that driving with a nasty flu was also comparable to driving under the influence.

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should fluoride in water be the responsibility of central government?



Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content