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Alcohol Is Bad by Itself. With Other Factors, It’s Awful.

Just about everyone understands that drinking alcohol and then driving is a bad idea. Alcohol can have many negative effects on a person’s ability to drive, including reduced reaction time, impaired concentration and coordination, drowsiness, and even diminished visual ability and night vision. But when other negative factors are added, such as inexperience, other substances, or distracted driving, the combination can be far worse than alcohol or any one of those other factors alone.

One Plus One Doesn’t Equal Two

Many drugs and other substances shouldn’t be taken together because the combination can have unpredictable or potentially dangerous results. Where our biology and chemistry are concerned, the human body is a complicated organism. It doesn’t react like a precision machine or behave according to a simple equation. Putting new substances into the system isn’t an issue of addition, but of multiplication: A second drug after a first isn’t a “1 + 1 = 2” situation; it might actually be more like “1 x 2 = 10.” That math might not make sense to you, and that’s exactly the problem. When you mix other substances with alcohol, the result often isn’t what you’d expect and can be a lot bigger.

A recent post on this site talked specifically about the dangers of mixing alcohol and cocaine, noting many potentially unpleasant side effects when the two are combined. What got my attention was that the risk of sudden death—already a factor with cocaine use—goes up by twenty times when the two are abused together.

Illegal drugs aren’t the only kind to worry about. You shouldn’t mix most legal drugs with alcohol or with each other. Prescription drugs are restricted for a good reason: They can be dangerous when taken in the wrong amounts or in the wrong combinations. Alcohol can enhance that negative effect.

Risky Behaviors and Alcohol Are a Dangerous Mix

Drug interactions aren’t the only risk multiplier. Most of us recognize that distracted driving behaviors—such as using a phone or other device, eating while driving, or even just getting too involved in a conversation—are dangerous. But more than two-thirds of us admit to doing some of these things.

Combining alcohol with distracted driving leads to even more dangerous situations, but it’s clear that too many people make that choice. One study found that in a recent four-year period traffic fatalities caused by a combination of the two were up more than 60 percent.

Inexperience Another Factor

Young people are less experienced as drivers, and that inexperience already weighs against them. As a group, young drivers are involved in more crashes than older drivers. But when they add alcohol to that inexperience, that risk goes up even more.

You should keep this in mind if you know a younger driver, or if you are one. Inexperience with alcohol and inexperience with driving is a terrible combination. There’s nothing wrong with avoiding either if it reduces the risk of harm to others (not to mention the driver).

Show Good Judgment

As a Phoenix car accident attorney, I’ve seen the results of plenty of crashes involving alcohol as well as many that were blamed on other factors. Combining another risk factor, like distracted driving, another intoxicating substance, or even inexperience, makes it more likely that a crash will happen. While these might be factors in a crash, they can’t be blamed on their own as drinking and driving is a choice. This puts the crashes that it leads to strongly in the 94 percent or more of crashes caused by human error. You owe it to yourself and all the others on the road to do better by simply choosing not to drink and drive.

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