Scientists from the University of Barcelona and a number of Australian institutes carried out a study to determine the effect of alcohol in varying quantities on driving, comparing the effects to that of texting while driving as well as talking via a hands-free mobile phone, and having a normal conversation.
The study, published in the Traffic Injury Prevention journal, tested a group of volunteers with full driving licences who had all drunk alcohol occasionally before the study but were not habitual drinkers. Their driving was tested multiple times prior to the study.
The results showed performance declined to the same extent when the participants were significantly over the alcohol limit and when they drove while text messaging.
Holding an “easy” conversation via the hands-free device produced results similar to small (under limit) alcohol consumption, while having a more strenuous or stressful conversation on the hands-free set caused results akin to border-line limit alcohol consumption.
Breaking time, speeding and speed alterations and lane changing were some of the aspects measured in the study.
The research participants were asked on the first day of research to consume alcohol, whereafter they took part in a driving simulation test.
On a separate occasion, participants were asked to drive in the simulator without using a mobile phone, followed by driving using a hands-free device and having easy, then more stressful, conversations, and finally text messaging.