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A review of the literature on the effects of low doses of alcohol on driving-related skills

A review of the literature on the effects of low doses of alcohol on driving-related skills

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Moskowitz, H., & Fiorentino, D. (2000). A review of the literature on the effects of low doses of alcohol on driving-related skills (Report no. DOT HS 809 028). Washington, DC: US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Full text

A review of the scientific literature regarding the effects of alcohol on driving-related skills was conducted. One hundred and twelve articles - from 1981 to 1997 - were reviewed. Results were indexed by BAC and behavioral area and entered into a database. Two separate analyses were conducted. The first analysis determined the lowest BAC at which impairment is reliably present in driving-related skills. The second analysis determined the thresholds of impairment for each of twelve separate behavioral areas. It was concluded that:

  • Alcohol impairs some driving skills beginning with any significant departure from zero BAC. By BACs of 0.05 g/dl, the majority of the experimental studies examined reported significant impairment. By 0.08 g/dl, more than 94% of the reviewed studies showed impairment in the skills they measured.

  • Specific performance skills are differentially affected by alcohol. Some skills are significantly impaired by BACs of .01 g/dl, while others do not show impairment until BACs of 0.06 g/dl.

  • Discrepancies among the reported BAC thresholds of impairment within a behavioral area reflected a lack of standardization of testing methods, instruments, and measures in the studies reviewed.

  • All drivers can be expected to experience impairment in some driving-related skills by 0.08 g/dl or less.