Impacts of Underaged Drinking

Drunk Driving

Drivers use their hands, eyes, and feet to control the car; but their hands, eyes, and feet must be controlled by their brains. Safe driving requires alertness and the ability to make quick decisions in rapidly changing situations. Drinking alcohol can have a profound effect on driving skills. For example, drinking can have a negative effect on any of these skills:

don't drink and drive sign next to beer and keys
  • Reaction Time – Alcohol can slow reflexes, which can decrease the ability to react swiftly to changing situations.
  • Vision – Alcohol can slow eye muscle function, alter eye movement, and alter visual perception, possibly resulting in blurred vision. Night vision and color perception also can be impaired.
  • Tracking – Alcohol can decrease the ability to judge the car's position on the road, or the location of other vehicles, center line, or road signs.
  • Concentration – Alcohol may cause attention to driving to decrease and/or drowsiness to occur.
  • Comprehension - Alcohol can hinder the ability to make rational decisions
  • Coordination - Reduced eye/hand/foot coordination can be caused by drinking too much alcohol.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 young people in the United States are killed and 40,000 are injured in auto accidents when alcohol is involved. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates more than 26,000 lives have been saved since the drinking age was increased to 21.

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