How does alcohol really affect driving skills?
Judgment is the ability to make sound and responsible decisions. Because alcohol affects your mental functions first, judgment is the first to go, meaning that reason and caution are quickly reduced. Judgment can be affected at as low as .02% BAC.
Concentration is the ability to shift attention from one point of action to another. Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to concentrate on the multiple tasks involved in driving, such as vehicle speed, position of the vehicle, other traffic on the road, tuning the radio, and participating in conversation with passengers.
Comprehension is the ability to understand situations, signs, and signals. Alcohol impairs the driver’s ability to “interpret” situations, signs, and/or signals which a driver must understand and/or respond to quickly in order to be safe on the road. Alcohol leaves the driver easily confused and unable to respond to emergency situations or to comprehend the meaning of simple signals (ie: running through a stop sign).
Coordination is the ability to coordinate motor skills. Alcohol impairs the ability to coordinate motor skills, beginning with fine motor skills (putting a key into the ignition) and including gross motor skills (walking to the car). Loss of coordination severely affects reaction time.
Vision & Hearing Acuity
Vision and hearing acuity is the ability to see and hear clearly. Alcohol reduces visual acuity up to 32%. It also reduces peripheral vision, resulting in tunnel vision. Alcohol impairs the ability to judge distance and depth perception (such as the position of a car). It dilates pupils and slows down the reactions of pupils, resulting in problems with on-coming headlights (glare) and “blind” driving. Because it also reduces the ears’ ability to hear, it causes muffling sounds and interferes with the ability to determine the direction of sounds.
Reaction time is the ability to see and understand a situation, then take an action. Alcohol severely reduces reaction time due to impairment of comprehension and coordination in particular. It slows down reaction time by 15-25%, resulting in DWI crashes and accidents which could have been avoided if no alcohol was in the system.
The Franklin Law Firm, LLP is working every day to make Dallas a safer city to drive in. If you or a family member has been hurt in a DWI accident by the impaired actions of an intoxicated person, contact us for a free consultation today to hear what your options and rights are.