A new study published in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research” suggests that people who believe that it’s wrong to drink and drive may change their minds after becoming drunk themselves.
Researchers from the University of Missouri compared the opinions of 82 people, 43 men and 39 women with an average age of 22, regarding their attitudes about drunk driving. During the first of two sessions, participants drank a moderate amount of alcohol. They then gave their opinions about driving under the influence and rated their willingness to drive at that moment during various blood alcohol levels. The participants returned for a second session and gave their opinions about driving drunk.
Study author and associate professor of psychological sciences, Denis McCarthy, was shocked to find out that the participants believed it was safer to drive after drinking when they, themselves, were drunk than when they were sober.
“We all probably know people who make good decisions about lots of things when they’re sober, but put four or five beers in them and they make bad ones. So that part wasn’t surprising,” McCarthy said. “I was surprised, however, that it was such a big effect over and above their sober beliefs.”
The study confirms what we already know; that alcohol affects our judgment.
“One of the reasons I do research like this is that drinking and driving is what I care about in terms of societal improvement,” he said. “It’s a behavior I think we can get rid of if we try hard enough.”
One way to get rid of it is to decide to not drink and drive before we begin drinking. Make plans ahead of time to find alternative means home and stick to them.