Why People Drink and Drive: Alcohol and the “Auto-Pilot”

ignition interlockFor anyone who has been involved in a drunk driving accident and felt the pain of personal injury, or even the devastating loss of a loved one, understanding why people drink and drive can be exceptionally difficult. Across the country, states are continually strengthening laws regarding drunk driving, including increasing financial consequences and removing the choice to drive drunk by requiring ignition interlock installations.

When asking why do people drink and drive, researchers have determined that for those who consume alcohol, the effects of the beverage have a surprising consequence, making ignition interlock devices one of the best choices in reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road.

According to research, alcohol not only induces a state of relaxation and loss of muscle control, but, by drinking, a person is more likely to move into an “auto-pilot” method of reaction. This “auto-pilot” state of mind remains throughout a session of moderate to heavy drinking, disallowing reactions in the moment that are important to driving, where snap decisions are important to the safety of vehicle passengers. Eliminating the ability to drink and drive through ignition interlock devices removes this danger, as the technology does not allow a person to start or operate a vehicle after consuming alcohol. Additionally, ignition interlock devices increase a drunk driving offender’s ability to maintain employment and other life productive obligations.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, incurs financial costs and can be tragic at its worst. Understanding why people drink and drive is necessary in order to provide solutions to the problem. Ignition interlock device installations, sobriety and alcohol education programs are all results of the research surrounding alcohol-related traffic incidents. Through continually refining public policies regarding drunk driving, and enhancing current laws, the research that shows why people drink and drive is helping to successfully reduce the number of dangerous drunk drivers on our roads.

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