Changes in Driving Behavior and Cognitive Performance with Different Breath Alcohol Concentration Levels

This study examines the changes in driving behavior and cognitive performance of drivers with different breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) levels. Eight licensed drivers, aged between 20 and 30 years, with BrAC levels of 0.00, 0.25, 0.4 and 0.5 mg/l performed simulated driving tests under high- and low-load conditions. Subjects were asked to assess their subjective psychological load at specified intervals and perform various tasks. The outcome was measured in terms of reaction times for task completion, accuracy rates, and driver's driving behavior. The effects of BrAC vary depending on the task. Performance of tasks involving attention shift, information processing, and short-term memory showed significant deterioration with increasing BrAC, while dangerous external vehicle driving behavior occurred only when the BrAC reached 0.4 mg/l and the deterioration was marked. We can conclude that the cognitive faculty is the first to be impaired by drinking resulting in deteriorated performance in tasks related to divided attention, short-term memory, logical reasoning, followed by visual perception. On the other hand, increasing alcohol dose may not pose an immediate impact on the external vehicle driving behavior but may negatively affect the driver's motor behavior even at low BrAC levels. Experience and will power could compensate for the negative influence of alcohol enabling the drivers to remain in full steering control. This lag between alcohol consumption and impaired driving performance may mislead the drivers in thinking that they are still capable of safe steering and cause them to ignore the potential dangers of drunk driving.


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  • Accession Number: 01055375
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 30 2007 3:44PM