The Scientific Effects Of Drunk Driving

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Drunk Driving is never a good idea, but have you ever thought about how alcohol actually effects you while you were driving? There are many factors that can influence how the alcohol effects your brain and your blood alcohol content. Learn more from this interactive infographic on the Scientific Effects Of Drunk Driving.

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The Scientific Effects of Drunk Driving

Everyone knows that drinking and driving is bad, but why? How does alcohol impact you while you’re driving?

  • In general many factors determine how much alcohol affects your brain, including:
    1. Your age/gender
    2. Your genetics
    3. Your general health
    4. How much you drink
    5. How long you’ve been drinking
  • Negative effects can start appearing at certain blood-alcohol concentrations.
    • Having a .08 or above BAC level when driving is illegal in all states.
    • However, impairment can start to occur between .04 and .08, including:
      • Poor reflexes
      • Less muscle control
      • Poor coordination
      • Bad driving capability
  • That means that for some people, one or two beers can dramatically affect judgment while driving.

What Exactly is it About Alcohol That Impairs People?

  • Vision > Alcohol affects vision by causing the muscles in your eyes to relax.
    • When a lot of alcohol has been consumed, the drinker can start experiencing vision problems:
      • Light sensitivity
      • Blurred vision
      • Color impairment
      • Tunnel vision
      • Decrease in depth perception
  • Brain Function > Alcohol affects your brain by altering the way neurons receive their firing triggers from glutamate.
    • Your glutamate receptors, located in your synapses, are hindered from sending off typical “normal” triggers.
    • This problem occurs all across your brain, hindering multiple functions.
      • Muscle control
      • Speech
      • Judgment
      • Coordination
    • Alcohol also changes the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.
      • Neurotransmitters transmit the signals that control:
        • Emotion
        • Behavior
        • Thought processes
      • The can stimulate or decrease brain electrical activity.
    • Alcohol increases the impact of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
    • When activity decreases in certain areas of the brain, it leads to a decrease in certain capabilities.
    • Prefrontal Cortex
      • Responsible for rational thoughts and decision-making.
      • When affected by alcohol, we end up acting more impulsively.
    • Cerebellum
      • Responsible for many of the body’s automatic functions.
      • When affected by alcohol, the driver could become sleepy, have slower breathing, and lower body temperature.
      • The latter two possibilities are potentially life threatening.

Even a drink or two can seriously decrease your driving skill, whether it is your vision or your brain’s function being impaired.

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