Hunter Abbott, MD of AlcoSense, talks to SLOAN! about the dangers of drink driving and how to avoid potentially fatal guesswork about whether you are fit to drive by using a personal breathalyser – don’t forget to enter our competition to win the gift of safety at the end of this article.
It makes absolute common sense that if you have been drinking, you don’t get into your car and drive – especially if you are the designated driver. But at Christmas, after a lively Christmas party or celebratory Christmas lunch with the family if you have to drive home, how do you know when it’s safe to set off? And even if you don’t need to drive home, did you know that you can still be over the limit the next morning?
And it’s not just about being under or over the limit. Studies show that if you drive while having only one-eighth of the English drink drive limit in your system or one fifth of the Scottish limit, you are 37% more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than when sober. (Source: “Drugs and Alcohol: Their Relative Crash Risk”, Romano et al. January 2014)
On average, most people process alcohol from their body at a rate of one unit per hour, but this is just an average. In fact, everyone processes alcohol at differing rates so it’s very difficult to estimate when you might be clear the next day. There are many factors that can affect this from your height and weight to the condition of your liver and so on: some people simply process alcohol out more slowly, others more quickly. Eating before or while drinking alcohol will reduce your peak alcohol level and slow absorption into the blood, but it will take longer to leave your system. Brunch, coffee or a cold shower might make you feel better but there’s no way to speed up how quickly alcohol actually leaves your system.
So, since it’s difficult to judge when you’re likely to be completely clear of alcohol, the only way to accurately help you avoid potentially fatal guesswork is to invest in a personal breathalyser. For example, if you’ve had a few glasses of wine at lunchtime and have to drive that evening, or you’ve been making merry with festive gin cocktails all evening and then hit the road early on a Saturday, a personal breathalyser will give you the tools to make an informed decision about the level of alcohol remaining in your system.
Investing in a personal breathalyser requires some knowledge. Make sure that you buy one with a highly-accurate sensor that is used by UK police forces and one with a colour screen clearly showing whether you’re over the limit or if it’s the morning after, whether you still have alcohol in your system at all. A backlit blow tube receptor is perfect for use on dark mornings or evenings and the readings should be automatically fine-tuned according to the temperature. Some breathalysers even have a ‘blow coach’ which give you on screen tips on how to give the best breath sample, making them exceptionally easy to use and importantly a ‘time until sober’ forecast and re-test alert. There are often multiple country destination alcohol limits pre–programmed, so that you can use it when driving between Scotland and England over the festive season, for example, or for holiday road trips the year round.
This year, have a happy, not a ‘merry’ Christmas on the roads and give the gift of safety to a friend or relative – or even an early Christmas present to yourself. The AlcoSense Excel (£99.99) or the AlcoSense Pro (£149.99) are both personal breathalyser which are manufactured according to ISO13485, the benchmark in medical device quality systems. The company also offers an after-care annual re-calibration test to ensure their products continue to work at factory-set accuracy levels year round.
If you would like the chance to win your own AlcoSense Pro just in time for the party season, click here to enter our prize giveaway before November 27th.
About the Expert
Hunter Abbott, MD of AlcoSense has spent 10 years creating some of the most accurate personal breathalysers on the market, is a member of PACTS – transport safety advisers to Parliament, and a British racing driver.