The Psychology Behind Drinking and Driving

According to a recently released report by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 16,400 alcohol suspected crashes occurred in the state of Florida in 2015. That number is slightly down from the 16,873 alcohol suspected crashes in 2014. But a decrease of 2.8% is a start, but clearly not enough of a decrease to protect our citizens.

Why do people drink and drive? We know it’s dangerous. We understand that it’s illegal. We know the consequences. Yet, many people -- thousands, in fact -- still drink and drive each year. Is there a concrete reason why this happens? As it turns out, there might be. 

What People Are Thinking

A really interesting study originally published in the June 2009 issue of Psychological Science might shed some light on what people are actually thinking when choosing to drink and drive. The study found that the mind wanders more often when intoxicated -- and that it’s harder to refocus after drinking more than the legal limit.

So while people think they are okay to drive, the reality is that they are not -- they think this because they cannot concentrate on whether or not they are truly okay to drive. Their ability to make the proper decision not to drive is impaired. In other words, they can’t really focus on whether or not they are too drunk to drive.

This study also sheds light on accidents that happen while drinking and driving. If a driver cannot concentrate on the task at hand (driving) because their mind is wandering too much, they cannot react effectively while driving. They can’t stop in time or avoid running a red light. Reaction times are decreased. Possibly because of a wandering mind. 

Just One Hypothesis

There are many other reasons why someone would choose to drink and drive. This survey found that 1 in 4 people chose to drive drunk because they were driving to ‘hook up’ with someone! So while everyone that does drink and drive might have a different reason, there’s also a psychological theory behind it all. 

Avoid the Entire Situation

Regardless of the reasons why people drink and drive, it’s important that we all act to stop drunk driving. 1. Don’t let your friends drive drunk. 2. Don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. 3. Make the decision before you go out not to drink. 4. Make other arrangements like designating a driver. 5. Take a Cab, Limo or other transportation. There are many options available to everyone.

In the end, unless everyone is making great decisions and not allowing drunk drivers on the road, good, honest and hard-working people will still be injured or killed by drunk drivers. Don’t think that you can’t get help if you have been a victim of drunk driving. In the end, there’s really no excuse.

We take drunk driving seriously. Try us.