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Driving After Binge Drinking More Common Than Believed
Date:9/1/2009

ming from bars, clubs and restaurants -- 54.3 percent of them, in fact. Just 23 percent had been drinking at someone else's home.

Laws make it illegal for bars, clubs and restaurants to sell alcohol to intoxicated people, Naimi pointed out. But those laws are not well-enforced. "The key thing about this study is, it's really illustrating the shared responsibility between individual drinkers and the places that are selling them alcohol."

Another expert, Nick Ellinger, a spokesman for MADD, said one unique aspect of the study is that "'they looked at the incidence of binge drinking as it related to drunk driving by location."

If you look only at bars and clubs, he said, one of five binge drinkers who drink at those locations drive afterwards.

The message? Not binge drinking is best, of course. But if you think you may over-indulge, make plans in advance for safe transport home, Ellinger said. "A lot of people drive to bars and restaurants to drink. It's wise ahead of time to make your plans for how you are going to get home safely because after you have begun drinking that decision-making process breaks down."

"The research shows that driving after binge drinking is a preventable problem," said David Jernigan, an associate professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.

"There are things to do" to remedy the problem, he said, including training servers to stop serving people who are intoxicated and strengthening the liability of club and restaurant owners.

For consumers, planning transportation home ahead of time is crucial, he said. But designated drivers have not been shown to work, he added. "It creates a carload of designated drunks," he said, some of whom may insist on driving. Public transportation is another, and sometimes safer, option.

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