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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1994 Feb;18(1):154-8.

Sleepiness and ethanol effects on simulated driving.

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  • 1Henry Ford Hospital, Sleep Disorders and Research Center, Detroit, MI 48202.


Twelve healthy young men were assessed in each of four experimental conditions presented in a Latin Square design: 8-hr time in bed (TIB) and placebo, 4-hr TIB and placebo, 8-hr TIB and ethanol, and 4-hr TIB and ethanol. After consuming ethanol (0.6 g/kg) or placebo (0900-0930 hr) with 20% supplements at 1030 and 1100 hr, subjects were tested for sleepiness (Multiple Sleep Latency Test at 1000, 1200, 1400, and 1600 hr) and divided attention (1030 hr) performance on day 1, and for simulated driving and divided attention (1000-1200 and 1400-1600 hr) performance on day 2. In the morning testing, with breath ethanol concentrations (BECs) averaging 0.049%, sleepiness was increased, divided attention reaction times increased (on both days), and simulated driving performance was disturbed in the ethanol and 4-hr TIB relative to placebo. Similarly in the afternoon, with BECs averaging 0.013%, the ethanol and 4-hr TIB condition increased sleepiness and disrupted divided attention and simulated driving performance. The results show that sleepiness and low-dose ethanol combine to impair simulated automobile driving, an impairment that extends beyond the point at which BEC reaches zero. They provide a possible explanation for the incidence of alcohol-related automobile accidents at low BECs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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