By Kathryn M. Cavanaugh, RN, MSN
Little Company of Mary Hospital
Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol is not only a serious crime, it’s very dangerous. Alcohol has a substantial effect on a person’s judgement, coordination, reaction time, concentration and vision. Any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream can impact your driving ability, putting you at risk for causing an accident.
Following are five dangers of drinking and driving
Poor Judgement. Alcohol clouds judgement. Loss of judgement when intoxicated can leave you more prone to distraction and less able to make good decisions. Driving skills are also impacted, such as the ability to judge the distance needed to stop in time, or to make a turn without hitting anything. Having a clear head helps your judgement by keeping you alert and aware of the conditions around you. Alcohol will impair this ability.
Slowed Reaction Time & Lack of Coordination. Having alcohol in your system causes your body to react more slowly to certain situations. The likelihood of an accident increases because you won’t be able to respond to something happening as quickly as you would if you were sober. A brain under the influence of alcohol takes longer to process a situation and react. Coordination skills are crucial for being able to safely drive a car, and if they are impaired, you will be putting yourself and others in danger.
Decreased Vision. Drinking may cause your vision to blur, or you might even lose control over your eye movement. This vision impairment can influence how you are able to judge the distance between your car and other vehicles or objects on the road. You might even lose your peripheral vision, which plays a very important role in safe driving.
Increased Likelihood of Having an Accident. There are about 10,000 deaths caused by alcohol-related crashes each year in the United States. Alcohol plays a role in roughly one in every three motor vehicle deaths in this country. Motor vehicle deaths are the leading killer of people under the age of 24, whether they are a driver or a passenger. No one should drive after consuming alcohol. This is the only way to protect yourself from the consequences of drinking and driving.
Potential Legal Ramifications. Anyone who chooses to drink and drive is putting themselves at risk for serious legal consequences. Beyond the legal penalties, offenders will also be subject to substantial financial penalties.
The dangers of drinking and driving far outweigh the reward of chancing that you will get home safely. Safely driving a car is difficult even when you are sober, but adding alcohol into the mix is putting your life and the lives of others on the road at risk. Make sure that you make the right choice and don’t attempt to drive drunk.
Top Programs This Month
Little Company of Mary Hospital
2800 W. 95th St. Registration: 708–423–5774.
CHEER (Choices, Humor, Enhancement, Education, Renewal) covers outdoor activities and safety in “Winter Wonderland: The Art of Keeping Cozy,” Wed., Dec. 11, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Cancer Center. Free.
Assess your risk for heart disease and stroke with a Wake-Up Call Screening Sat., Dec. 14. Includes healthy heart labs, ultrasound of abdominal aorta and carotid arteries, peripheral vascular screening and heart rhythm screening for atrial fibrillation, plus personalized visit with wellness nurse educator and kidney health screening. Payment required at registration. Fee: $160 ($5,500 value).
Hand/Wrist Screening with LCMH board certified orthopedic surgeon Ramsey Ellis, MD, Tues., Dec. 17. Free.
Healthy Heart Screening including CBC with differential, chemistry, blood sugar, cholesterol profile, thyroid, hs-CRP, BP and BMI, plus kidney health screening to determine the amount of protein in the urine. Monday through Thursday, two locations. By appointment only. Fee: $70 ($2,500 value).