Is driving with a hangover dangerous?

A couple of recent studies have concluded that driving while hungover potentially entails the same danger as driving while drunk. Actually, driving with a hangover could be even more dangerous, given the false sense of security that being nominally sober might elicit in the driver, while in fact they are still under the influence of alcohol, and even the lack thereof. People who are suffering from a hangover experience short-term alcohol withdrawal symptoms, plus dehydration and sleep deprivation. And while officers of the law can determine how much alcohol there is in the blood of a drunk driver, it’s impossible to tell how hungover a person might be.

Both studies were conducted by researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the University of the West of England in the U.K. In the first one, participants who had had an average of ten drinks the previous night were put through a battery of tests meant to simulate highway driving conditions. The individuals showed weaving in traffic and lack of attention to the road similar to a person with a 0.5 blood alcohol content, even though there was no alcohol in their blood.

In the second study, the subjects were asked to participate in a test that mirrored stop-and-go traffic after a night’s drinking. Delayed reactions times and inconsistent speeds were the order of the day. Unfortunately, there is no law against driving hungover yet, so people who plan on driving after a night of drinking are strongly entreated to be extra careful when they are out on the road. Maybe even consider the possibility of a designated driver for the day after.

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