Got a New Year's hangover? Don't get behind the wheel

Published: January 01, 2014 06:00 AM

Sure, you know that drinking alcohol and driving are a dangerous mix. But if you rang in 2014 a little too heartily last night and are now suffering the consequences—that is, the dreaded hangover—a new study suggests you should stay off the road today as well.

Researchers in the Netherlands assessed driving performance—as measured by the amount of weaving of the car—in 47 healthy adults on two occasions: the morning after a night of heavy drinking, when all of them were suffering from a hangover, and on a control day when they'd had no alcohol the prior night. They also asked each driver to rate his or her own driving quality under both conditions.

Driving performance was significantly worse during the alcohol hangover, with the drivers showing levels of impairment consistent with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent, the legal limit in many countries (but not the U.S., where the limit is 0.08 percent). And the subjects rated their own driving quality as less safe, less considerate, less predictable, and less responsible when they were hungover versus when they weren't. They also reported feeling a lot more tense when driving with a hangover and said it took more effort to perform the driving test. 

That's good reason not to get behind the wheel if you're among the many Americans nursing a hangover today. For tips on quelling the agony—including headache, tremors, nausea, and fatigue—see our earlier coverage. And the next time you imbibe, consider these do's and don'ts to help prevent a miserable morning after. 

Happy New Year!

—Jamie Kopf

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