Home > Lifestyle > Man > News Updated 11 June 2013 Nearly a fifth of designated drivers are impaired They may volunteer to be the one to get their friends home safely, but "designated drivers" often drink - even to a level that impairs them behind the wheel. 0 iStock Related Non-alcoholic red wine might lower BP Teen lifestyles affect their blood pressure College women prone to problem drinking Follow us Facebook » Ask CyberShrink » Receive Health tips » Test Your sex toy IQ » All the tests you'll ever need 8 strange things your body does They may volunteer to be the one to get their friends home safely, but "designated drivers" often drink - even to a level that impairs them behind the wheel, according to a report in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.The study, of more than 1 000 bar patrons, found that approximately 40% of designated drivers had downed alcohol. What's more, most of those drinkers had blood alcohol levels that could impair their driving. It's not clear why those designated drivers drank despite their role. Some of them might think that as long as they don't feel drunk they are all right to drive, says lead researcher Adam Barry, PhD, an assistant professor of health education and behaviour at the University of Florida in Gainesville."People do try to use that as a measuring stick," he says. "But alcohol is insidious." That is, your driving skills are already impaired before you feel the "buzz" that tells you you've indulged too much."If you're going to be a designated driver, you should abstain from alcohol use completely," Barry says.For the study, Barry's team went out into a college bar district six distinct nights (10:00 p.m. - 2:30 a.m.) over three months, recruiting bar patrons as they exited drinking establishments. Ultimately, 1 071 people agreed to be interviewed and take alcohol breath tests - including 165 who said they were the designated driver.Campaigns do little to preventAbout 40% of those drivers had been drinking. On breath tests, 17% had blood alcohol levels between .02% and .05%, while 18% were at .05% or higher.Although people can legally drive with a blood alcohol level up to .08%, studies have found that alcohol begins to dull people's driving skills at a blood level of .02%. By .05%, the ability to drive safely is clearly impaired.Of course, Barry notes, it's best for any driver - not just designated drivers - to refrain from drinking. But it may be particularly risky when a designated driver imbibes, because he or she will have a carload of drunken passengers."They may be loud, or start roughhousing. They're a distraction," Barry says. Couple all of that with the fact that most people drink at night, when any driver's vision is diminished, and you have a potential recipe for disaster, according to Barry.A number of studies have found that designated-driver campaigns, although popular, have done little to actually prevent drunk driving. If trends like the one in this study continue, the researchers say, designated-driver campaigns will probably continue to disappoint. NEXT ON HEALTH24X How education transformed a stuttering child into a style icon 18 minutes ago Partner content More: ManNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Medical SA child born with HIV has virus under control without drugs Medical Should it really take tragic celebrity suicides to shine the spotlight on mental health? News Revealed: 100 Gauteng ambulances out of operation every day News SEE: Your brain might be 25 years older than your body Medical schemes 20 medical scheme myths you should not believe Medical How much sleep do you really need? From our sponsors How erectile dysfunction can affect relationships Coping with the fear of cancer IBS affects 15% of people around the world The evolution of asthma treatment Live healthier Here's some help... » Combat childhood obesity Childhood obesity brings future health problems 3 ways to get young couch potatoes away from the screen Are your children glued to their electronic devices? It might be time to start making some rules. Time for a break? » Stressful job leads to emotional burnout Work burnout tied to emotional eating This is why you must take annual leave Avoid burnout and use your annual leave to get some well-deserved rest. Your body and mind will thank you.