Why Do People Drink and Drive?

Published on April 20th, 2020

Whenever an impaired person gets behind the wheel, they endanger everyone. They risk the health, life, and safety of everyone else on the road, as well as their own. Repeat offenders seldom avoid catastrophic consequences, such as a DWI accident in San Antonio, TX. One way or another, all habitual drunk drivers eventually run out of luck. The majority of people never set out to drive drunk. Alcohol impaired driving is usually the result of a combination of questionable or poor decisions. The sequence of these decisions about drinking and driving merge the two acts together in time and place – often with disastrous results.

The Decision to Drive Drunk

A recent study completed by the National Public Services Research Institute (NPSRI) evaluated the decisions people made that led them to drink and drive.The NPSRI study interviewed almost 600 participants who described in detail the series of choices leading up to their most recent occurrence of drunk driving. Each drinker described how they made decisions regarding the events they attended, how they would get to the event, what and how much to drink, what activities they would engage in, when to leave, whether to stay overnight, and how to get home.

Some of the most important decisions occur early in the sequence. The NPSRI found that two of the most consequential decisions are:

  • Deciding to take part in an event where drinking will occur
  • What mode of transportation will be used to get to this event 

These two choices lead to the conditions that make it a virtual certainty that alcohol-impaired driving will occur, possibly leading to an accident in San Antonio, TX. Because decisions made prior to getting behind the wheel after drinking greatly influence the certainty of these events, current countermeasures often don’t work. For instance, because celebrations create expectations of overindulgence, social hosts imposing limits on their guests’ drinking usually proves futile. Efforts to combat impaired driving must influence early decisions if they are to be successful.

What Motivates a Person to Drink and Drive Repeatedly?

While habitual drunk drivers often drive impaired all the time because they feel invincible, at a certain point these drivers had to make an initial decision to do so. Alcohol definitely influenced that initial decision – and while everybody knows this, not everybody knows how.

Humans have chemicals called neurotransmitters in our bodies, and they travel through neurons and synapses to elicit reactions from us. Adrenaline and serotonin are examples of neurotransmitters. Alcohol interferes with proper processing of other neurotransmitters, and normal signaling is disturbed. This can impair decisions made in the frontal lobe of our brain (the decision-making portion).

The bottom line is that if you decide to go to an event where alcohol is served, and you decide to drive, once you have your first drink, the other decisions you thought you made prior to having that drink may be derailed by interruption of the proper signals to your frontal lobe. This chain of events is likely to lead to an DWI accident in San Antonio, TX – and possible injury, arrest, or worse.

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