UC San Diego LogoInvariably a large number of people will think it’s safe to go behind the wheels after they’ve guzzled down a drink or two with virtually every country having a safe alcohol limit for the same. The United States has a blood-alcohol limit of around 0.08 percent. Now a University of San Diego study suggests that despite the safety limits for the same, no quantity of alcohol can actually be riskless for driving.

Apparently blood-alcohol levels that seem much lower than the U.S legal limit are linked with injury and death. As part of the study, official data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) was evaluated. It included details on every person in the U.S. who had been involved in a car accident between 1994 and 2008. The 1,495,667 people data is said to be nationally comprehensive spanning across all U.S. counties at all times. FARS also importantly comprised of reports on blood-alcohol content in increments of 0.01.

“Accidents are 36.6 percent more severe even when alcohol was barely detectable in a driver’s blood,” David Phillips who led the study mentioned. “Compared with sober drivers, buzzed drivers are more likely to speed, more likely to be improperly seat-belted and more likely to drive the striking vehicle, all of which are associated with greater severity.”

Phillips, with coauthor Kimberly M. Brewer, also of UC San Diego mentioned that even with a BAC of 0.01, there had been 4.33 serious injuries for every non-serious injury. This was versus 3.17 for sober drivers. According to the investigators, there appeared to be a strong ‘dose response’ association between all the factors. Higher the blood-alcohol content, the average speed of the driver was higher and more severe was the accident. These findings seemed to be persistent even when probable confounding variables like inattention and fatigue were left out.

In general, the accident severity was also apparently greater on weekends between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. It was also higher in summer, between June and August. However on standardizing for day of the week, the time and month, there was a persistent link between BAC and severe car accidents.

The findings are published in the journal Addiction.