Why does alcohol make drivers crash?

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There is a ton of evidence linking alcohol with motor vehicle crashes. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures show around a third of crashes where someone died involved a driver who was over the limit. The statistics are similar for motorcycle crashes, with 29% of the motorcyclists who died being over the limit. Despite this, many people still take charge of a vehicle when legally drunk and even more drink at least some alcohol beforehand.

The legal blood alcohol content limit for most drivers is 0.08 BAC. Here is what the research says happens when you have this amount of alcohol in your bloodstream:

  • It becomes harder to see or hear
  • It becomes harder to concentrate
  • It becomes harder to control your speed

Doing all those things is essential to driving safely. They can all be challenging enough when you are stone-cold sober, so anything that lessens your ability to do these things is a problem.

Does that mean you can drive safely under the 0.08 BAC limit?

Any amount of alcohol will still impair your driving or riding ability. At 0.05 BAC alcohol, it becomes harder to steer in a straight line and harder to react quickly in an emergency. At 0.02 BAC, it becomes harder to judge the speed of other vehicles and tougher to multitask.

No one forces drivers to drink. The dangers of alcohol are well known, so every time a driver gets in their vehicle after even one drink, they need to accept responsibility for their actions. If a driver crashes into you after they have consumed alcohol, you need to receive adequate compensation for any injuries they cause you.


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