Designated Drivers Have Often Been Drinking
The July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reports that about 40% of college students who are designated as “designated drivers” drink along with the students who designated them to stay sober.
The study focused on people who frequented restaurants and bars near a Florida college. Breath tests were administered on six different occasions during a three-month period, with a total of 1071 people being tested, including 165 people who identified themselves as designated drivers.
About 40% of the designated drivers had alcohol content in their blood. About 18%, almost one out of five, had blood-alcohol levels of 0.05 percent or higher. Although the federal and Oklahoma definition of driving under the influence is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, the National Highway Transportation Safety Board recently recommended reducing the limit to 0.05. See “Federal Agency Recommends Lower Drunk Driving Limit.”
Researchers who conducted the study concluded that part of the problem is that many people do not understand the responsibilities of a designated driver. “[There is a] need for consensus across researcher, layperson and communication campaigns that a designated driver must be someone who has abstained from drinking entirely,” the report said.
The idea of “designated drivers” began in Europe several decades ago, and was promoted heavily in the United States beginning in 1988, through a campaign by the Harvard School of Public Health.
An abstract as well as the full-text of the study is available at the Journal’s website.
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