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Study shows alcohol always dangerous when mixed with driving

New research is providing insight on how much even small amounts of alcohol can affect the body; information that can be useful to all of us who drive in and around La Crosse.

According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego, just enough alcohol to give a driver a "buzz" is enough to increase the chance that the person will become involved in a car accident.

Even though Wisconsin law allows drivers with a blood-alcohol content below .08 percent to drive vehicles, the study showed a concentration of just .01 percent is enough to increase the odds of an accident which can cause a crash. How much alcohol does it take to get to .01 percent? For some people, it means less than half of a single beer.

"Buzzed" driving means accidents are more likely and more severe, according to the study based on federal statistics for fatal automotive accidents from 1994 through 2008.

One researcher reported that "accidents are 36.6 percent more severe even when alcohol was barely detectable in the driver's blood." This is because "buzzed" drivers are more likely to speed, hit another vehicle and less likely to wear a seat belt.

Another study done by the University of Missouri-Columbia reported that the risk of getting caught drunk versus being in an accident is more than likely a stronger reason not to drink. Participants in the study said they were less likely to drink and drive if they thought they were going to be arrested.

Authors of the UCSD study say its findings should lead to a nationwide lowering of the allowable blood-alcohol levels. They say that would mean fewer car accidents, injuries and deaths on our roadways.

Source: ABC News: "Drunk Driving: Even a Trace of Alcohol Is Dangerous on the Road, Says Study" by Lee Dye: June 22, 2011

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