Nearly one in eight binge drinkers say they get behind the wheel and drive within two hours of drinking, U.S. government researchers report.
The new research adds a timeline and other new information to what’s known about drinking and driving, said study author Dr. Timothy Naimi, a physician with the alcohol team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report will be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“A lot of studies, including ours, have established a strong connection between binge drinking and impaired driving, which is sort of obvious on some level,” he said. “What hasn’t been looked at is how many people actually do get behind the wheel after a binge drinking episode.”
So Naimi and his colleagues evaluated data from more than 14,000 adults in 13 states in 2003 and 14 states in 2004, who reported binge drinking and then answered additional questions. They were part of the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.
Binge drinking was defined as having five or more drinks during an occasion, such as an evening out or at a party.
Overall, 11.9 percent of the binge drinkers drove within two hours of their binge drinking, Naimi found.
“It’s a pretty awesome number when you link it up with the number of binge drinking episodes in the U.S.,” he said. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.5 billion binge drinking episodes occur in the United States each year.
Two other statistics shed more light on the binge drinking and driving issue, he said. For starters, 50 percent of the binge drinkers were aged 25 to 44. And the binge drinkers were often coming from bars, clubs and restaurants – 54.3 percent of them, in fact. Just 23 percent had been drinking at someone else’s home.
For consumers, planning transportation home ahead of time is crucial. Public transportation is another, and sometimes safer, option.