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Studies prove how alcohol impacts reaction times

One of the biggest problems with drunk driving isn’t just that drunk drivers make mistakes, but that they cannot react properly when something happens on the road that they don’t expect.

An example could be traffic slowing down on the freeway for a construction zone. A sober, attentive driver spots the reduction in speed with plenty of time to slow down appropriately. A drunk driver does not notice it as quickly and is slower to physically react — by hitting the brakes — even when they do. This can lead to an avoidable rear-end accident.

Controlled studies have shown exactly how this works. In one, letters flashed on a screen. They were either an “X” or a “K.” Participants had a button they could push, and they were only supposed to do it when they saw the X.

A control group did this while completely sober. Another group did it while at 0.05 percent in terms of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This is still below the typical BAC limit of 0.08 percent for drivers. A third group did it while at 0.10 percent, which is over the legal limit.

The first two groups varied only slightly, but the last group was a disaster. Their reaction times increased significantly, they made more mistakes and their success rate was far worse than the control group.

This is a safe way to study the impact of alcohol, and it shows you just how dangerous drunk drivers really are. If you get injured in an accident, it is crucial for you to know all of the legal options you have.

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