Drunk Driving-Related Deaths Surge During the
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- During the holidays,
alcohol-related car accidents claim more lives than at any other
time of the year, according to U.S. government experts.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
(NIAAA) reports that 40 percent of traffic-related deaths during
Christmas and New Year's involve drunk drivers -- a 12 percent
increase over the rest of the month of December.
Facing these troubling statistics, the NIAAA issued a warning
that more awareness is needed on the effects of alcohol on the
body, and how long alcohol can remain in a person's system. The
agency offered the following information on the effects of alcohol
to clear up some common misconceptions:
- Alcohol acts quickly. Alcohol interferes with people's
coordination, driving skills and judgment well before physical
signs of drunkenness appear. The NIAAA pointed out that people
should not be deceived by the initial surge in excitement or energy
alcohol might trigger. Continued alcohol consumption can prolong
reaction time and can cause people to lose control and become
aggressive, making driving safely much more difficult.
- Alcohol's effects last. Alcohol continues to enter the
bloodstream and affect the brain and body for hours after
consumption. Driving late at night compounds the sedative effects
of alcohol because people are naturally more tired at night.
Driving abilities may continue to be impaired the morning after a
night of drinking.
- Coffee doesn't help. Caffeine does not help reduce the
effects of alcohol on people's coordination or ability to make good
decisions. Only time will allow the body to metabolize or break
down alcohol and return to normal.
The NIAAA concluded that people should not have more than one
alcoholic drink per hour and every other drink should be a
The experts suggest that people attending parties should
consider the devastating effects a fatal crash could have and
designate a driver who has not consumed any alcohol.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about
alcohol-related traffic deaths.
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