A dangerous combination: tipsy drivers and distractions

It is a well known fact that driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is against the law in New York, as it is throughout the nation. However, for most adults, it takes more than a single drink to reach that level. Thus, many people who consider themselves to be responsible drivers will regularly get behind the wheel after having a small amount of alcohol, such as a glass of wine or beer with dinner. For today's increasingly distracted drivers, however, new research shows that may not be such a safe choice after all.

Not necessarily illegal, but not safe either

Although it is not necessarily illegal, driving with a BAC of less than 0.08 can be risky. Even at low levels, alcohol consumption takes a toll on judgment, reaction times, coordination and other skills and mental processes that are necessary for safe driving. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, drivers are almost 40 percent more likely to crash when their BAC levels are at of 0.05 than when they are completely sober.

Recently, researchers from the University of Kentucky examined the issue from a different angle by studying how drivers with low BAC levels are affected by everyday distractions like cellphones, car stereos and navigation systems. Using driving simulators, the research team found that drivers who were already impaired by alcohol became twice as impaired with the introduction of distractions.

Those findings suggest that limiting alcohol consumption before driving may not be enough to prevent dangerous impairments that could lead to car accidents. The study also underscores the importance of avoiding distractions while driving, particularly after consuming alcohol in any amount. Although cellphones and texting are some of the most common sources of distracted driving, it is important to remember that any other non-driving activity - such as reading maps, using a navigation system, talking to passengers, eating and grooming - can also contribute to distracted driving accidents.

Holding unsafe drivers accountable

If you or someone in your family is hurt by a drunk, distracted or otherwise negligent driver in or around New York, be sure to talk things over with an experienced personal injury lawyer at your earliest opportunity. Regardless of whether any criminal charges arise from the accident, you may be able to hold the negligent driver accountable through the civil legal system. Doing so may enable you to receive compensation for your injuries and related losses, including medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and more. Contact Paris & Chaikin, PLLC, to discuss the details of your case and learn more about your options.