September 1, 2009

Study Shows High Binge Drinking, Driving Rate

One in ten binge drinkers admit to getting behind the wheel of a car within two hours of having a drink, according to a new study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study looked at 14,000 people classified as "binge drinkers". Each of these people admitted to drinking five or more alcoholic beverages in a single sitting.

Researchers found that about 12 percent of participants admitted to driving a vehicle within two hours of drinking heavily.

Half of the 12 percent said they drove after drinking at a restaurant, bar or other licensed venue. While half of those who said they drove away from an establishment admitted to having at least 7 or more drinks.

The CDC researchers claim the study is the first to provide an indicator of how likely a person will be to drive after binge drinking.

Dr. Timothy Naimi, an epidemiologist with the CDC's alcohol program, led the study to be published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Naimi told the Associated Press that binge drinking accounts for more than 11,000 deaths from alcohol-related motor accidents each year.

But while all states have some form of law in place to stop establishments from serving drinks to customers who are already drunk, Naimi says they "are among the most disregarded laws in the country."

The study involved telephone surveys during 2003 and 2004, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that since then drunk driving fatalities have fallen by nearly 10 percent from 2007 to 2008.

However, most efforts to stop drunk driving has involved stopping the drunk driver rather than the establishment or bartender who is serving the drinks.

"The drinking location is really important," said Naimi. "We're trusting these licensed establishments to serve responsibly, and more than half of the intoxicated people who drive have been drinking in these places."


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