We might need to change the definition of a designated driver from noble abstainer to something along the lines of not as drunk as you.
idea of having one person in a group agree not to drink so that
everyone else can get home safely after a night of alcohol-fueled fun
has been promoted as a way to reduce the dangers of drunken driving,
especially among teenagers and young adults.
researchers put the idea to the test, the results weren't all that
reassuring. Breath tests of young adults leaving a bar on Saturday
night, they found that 41 percent of the designated drivers had been
drinking. Almost 20 percent had been drinking enough to be considered
It may be that these youthful bon vivants interpret the duties of designated driver differently than do safety advocates.
Europe, a designated driver is widely considered to be the less
inebriated driver, not an abstainer. And surveys of drivers in the U.S.
have found that they think it's fine for the designated driver to drink,
as long as her or his blood alcohol level is below the legal limit.
when people's driving skills while drinking are tested in laboratories,
they start getting messed up much earlier than many people think. Some
studies have found driving skills impaired with a blood alcohol level of
0.02 percent — much lower than the 0.08 percent that's the current
legal limit across the U.S. At 0.05 percent, pretty much everyone's
unable to drive very well.
Earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board called for of 0.05 percent, to better reflect that fact.
this study, researchers at the University of Florida tested the blood
alcohol levels of 1,071 people leaving bars in Gainesville on Saturday
night, after a Gators home football game. There were 165 people who said
they were designated drivers. The breath test showed that 41 percent
had been drinking.
Seventeen percent of the designated drivers
had blood alcohol levels of 0.02 or below, so they might be able to make
the case that they were kind of safe behind the wheel. But 18 percent
had blood alcohol levels of 0.05 or higher. Uh-oh.
All of the
participants were above 18; their average age was around 30, and about
half of them were students. The more impaired designated drivers were
also more likely to binge drink and engage in dangerous drinking
behavior overall. The in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
drinkers who weren't designated drivers did have higher blood alcohol
levels than the designated drivers, on average, if that's any
Bottom line: The researchers write that there's a
need for "communications campaigns that a [designated driver] must be
someone who abstains from drinking entirely."
Follow this link to view the article by Nancy Shute on the NPR website.