One for the road may land you in the morgue

Alcohol reduces judgement and reaction time and changes one’s perception of reality while driving

We get maximum cases of trauma at nights. The reason is drunken driving," said Dr M C Misra, chief of the trauma centre at All India Institute of Medical Sciences during a conference on emergency medical services.

Alcohol causes chemical imbalances in the brain. With the availability of scientific tests for blood alcohol content (BAC), the impact of liquor on the brain is being studied better.

“According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), United States, the relative risk of death for drivers in single-vehicle crashes with a high BAC is 385 times that of a zero-BAC driver. Further, it states that for a male driver the risk is 707 times compared to a sober driver,” said a senior doctor at the AIIMS trauma centre.

"Alcohol impacts many parts of a person's brain. It reduces their capacity of judgement and delays response time. Combining these two together means that a person is not able to act or react to an emergency situation in appropriate time. This becomes the cause of accidents," said Dr Sumit Sinha, neurosurgeon at  AIIMS trauma centre. There are added reasons which lead to causes of single-vehicle crash.

“Alcohol intake does not reduce only judgement and reaction time, but also changes one’s perception of reality. It also reduces people’s inhibitions and makes them feel free to engage in acts that they wish to in normal state but do not, due to a rational understanding of the situation,” said a doctor at the psychiatry department of Lady Hardinge Hospital.

He said most cases of accidents due to drunken driving involve drivers aged between 23-30 years.

“In this age-group, there is a tendency to outsmart everyone else. Movies with young protagonists usually have at least one scene of fast and rash driving, which is celebrated as a positive event. It can be either the heroic act of reaching a hospital or celebrating a birthday. This has an impact on young minds. Under the influence of alcohol, young people try to relive these scenes,” he said.

He blamed superhero movies for instigating unhealthy practice of rash driving among the youth, and speculated that this could even be behind the recent Lamborghini car crash which killed its driver and paralysed a pedestrian.

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