Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education and behavior at UF, and his team interviewed and breath-tested more than 1,000 bar patrons in the downtown restaurant and bar district of a major university town in the Southeast.
Of the designated drivers who had consumed alcohol, half recorded a blood-alcohol level higher than .05 percent -- a recently recommended new threshold for drunken driving.
"If you look at how people choose their designated drivers, oftentimes they're chosen by who is least drunk or who has successfully driven intoxicated in the past -- successful meaning got home in one piece ... that's disconcerting," Barry said.
The results are published in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The researchers recruited patrons as they left bars between 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. across six Friday nights before home football games in fall 2011. The mean age of the 1,071 people who agreed to be tested was 28. Most were white male college students, while 10 percent were Hispanic, 6 percent were Asian and 4 percent were African-American.
After completing a 3-5 minute interview about demographic data and alcohol-related behaviors, participants then had their blood-alcohol content tested with a hand-held breath-testing instrument.
The non-driving participants had significantly higher levels than the designated drivers, but 35 percent of the 165 self-identified designated drivers had been drinking. Seventeen percent of all those drivers tested had blood-alcohol levels between .02 and .049 percent, while 18 percent were at .05 percent or higher.
The National Transportation Safety Board last month recommended all 50 states adopt a blood-alcohol content cutoff of 0.05 compared with the 0.08 standard used today to prosecute drunken driving. The American Medical Association made the same recommendation in the 1980s, Barry said.
Barry said he doesn't know why a designated driver would consume alcohol, but factors could include group dynamics or the driver's belief that one or two drinks won't impair his skills if he is an experienced drinker.
Some field-based research suggests designated drivers might drink because the group did not consider who would drive before drinking commenced. Barry also suggested that it's tricky for anyone to accurately evaluate their own sobriety.
"That's the insidious nature of alcohol -- when you feel buzzed, you're drunk," he said.
There is no universally accepted definition of a designated driver, according to the research. Although most U.S. researchers say drivers should completely abstain, international researchers believe they can drink as long as his or her blood-alcohol level remains below the legal limit. However, the U.S. limit is much higher than in most other countries.
At .08 percent, the U.S. has one of the highest allowable legal limits of any developed country. Countries such as Denmark, Finland and Greece use the .05 level; Russia and Sweden are at .02; and Japan has a zero percent tolerance.
Co-researchers were Beth H. Chaney and Michael L. Stellefson, also assistant professors in health education and behavior, College of Health and Human Performance.Writer: Ron Wayne, 352-392-0186, email@example.com
Adam Barry | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.
Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
16.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.05.2017 | Life Sciences
22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy