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Driving is complex, requires full attention

Driving a motor vehicle is complex task. Add to this task alcohol intoxication or distractions like text messages or phone conversations and your ability to drive becomes impaired.

Research on the impact of alcohol on driving performance and crash risk are well documented and have been used to establish the current legal limits for defining drunk driving. A new study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology looked at the effects of alcohol, common distractions (e.g., texting, talking, GPS, dashboard controls, etc.) and alcohol and distractions combined on driver performance in a driving simulator.

The results are not surprising. Either alcohol or distractions affect a driver’s ability to perform the tasks associated with driving.

In the near 6-mile driving simulation alcohol and common distractions both impaired a driver’s ability to perform key functions – vehicle lane position, steering rate and lane exceedance. Additionally, the researchers found that the level of alcohol impairment on safe driving was twice as great when driving under the influence of both alcohol and distractions.

Alcohol and distractions, like a cell phone, impair a driver’s ability to concentrate, react and make safe driving decisions. More than half of Americans believe impaired driving includes a multitude of behaviors including distracted driving, drunk driving, drugged driving, and drowsy driving. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( leads the fight against drunk driving and offers proven strategies to stop impaired driving. That is why, along with NHTSA Administrator Rosekind we are focusing on the four “D”s of impaired driving – drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving.

Regardless of the unsafe behavior, impaired driving is dangerous and is the cause of more than half of the motor vehicle crashes in the US.

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Maureen Dalbec, Vice President of Research at, and her husband are proud parents of two college age children. In her free time she enjoys running and swimming and occasionally competing in triathlons as well as volunteering in her community.

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