Drivers who self-estimate lower blood alcohol concentrations are riskier drivers after drinking

Jennifer R. Laude, Mark T. Fillmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Rationale: Alcohol increases the tendency for risky driving in some individuals but not others. Little is known about the factors underlying this individual difference. Studies find that those who underestimate their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) following a dose of alcohol tend to be more impulsive and report greater willingness to drive after drinking than those who estimate their BACs to be greater than their actual BAC. BAC underestimation could contribute to risky driving behavior following alcohol as such drivers might perceive little impairment in their driving ability and thus no need for caution. Objectives: This study was designed to test the relationship between drivers' BAC estimations following a dose of alcohol or a placebo and the degree of risky driving they displayed during a simulated driving test. Methods: Forty adult drivers performed a simulated driving test and estimated their blood alcohol concentration after receiving a dose of alcohol (0.65 g/kg for men and 0.56 g/kg for women) or a placebo. Results: Alcohol increased risk-taking and impaired driving skill. Those who estimated their BAC to be lower were the riskiest drivers following both alcohol and placebo. Conclusions: The tendency to estimate lower BACs could support a series of high-risk decisions, regardless of one's actual BAC. This could include the decision to drive after drinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1387-1394
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Springer-Verlag.


  • Alcohol
  • BAC
  • BAC estimation
  • Driver risk-taking
  • Driver skill
  • Risky driving
  • Simulated driving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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