Traveling Responsibly Part Two: If You Plan to Drive, Beware of Taking Your Drinking Habits with You2 min read
So you’ve just enjoyed an exotic dinner including a liberal sampling of the local alcoholic libations (some of which are quite potent), and now it’s time to drive home. Be honest, do you have any idea what your blood alcohol level might be? Nearly 90% of the world’s countries have a national drunk-driving law on the books. Of course enforcement varies, but worrying about whether you’ll be stopped and booked is only part of the story. Think of the risk you pose to the local populace and yourself when you get behind the wheel. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the legal Breath Alcohol Concentration (or BAC) for driving be less than or equal to 0.05 g/dl, and 50% of countries have implemented these rules. In the U.S., the legal limit is 0.08.
Unfortunately, this disparity seems to predict the likelihood of road deaths attributable to alcohol. The WHO’s recent report on road safety around the world places the U.S. among the top twenty countries where you are most likely to die on the road (or cause the death of someone else) if you’ve been drinking.
From this limited data set (not all countries are reporting), we can begin to conclude that American drinking habits generally pose significantly more risk than the locals’ do. Add this American propensity to drink and drive to the need to negotiate unfamiliar or substandard roads as well as signs in foreign languages, and Americans clearly represent a significant threat behind the wheel when far from home, unless they act responsibly.
It may be best to always let someone else drive if you plan to drink at all. In Brazil, the legal limit is just 0.02, and violators are hit with a $600 fine. For many people, just one drink puts you over this limit.
Have you had a drinking and driving incident abroad?