A buzzed driver is a driver affected by the alcohol they consume. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is one of the organizations promoting the term. You might wonder why they don’t call it drunk driving?
The problem with the term drunk driving is that many people think it does not apply to them. Someone grabbing the keys after a couple of beers to celebrate a colleague’s last day or driving home after a glass of wine with lunch might consider themself fit to drive. They decide that they are unlikely to test over the limit, so assume they have legal backing to drive.
Yet, not everything dangerous is illegal. For example, there is no law telling you not to drop a piece of metal in a fire and pick it out with your bare hands ten minutes later. Besides, drivers can still be prosecuted for drunk driving offenses even if they test below the limit.
The term buzzed was introduced to remind drivers that any amount of alcohol reduces the ability to drive safely. Here is what the NHTSA reports as the consequences of blood alcohol content (BAC) below the 0.08 legal limit:
- .02 BAC harms your ability to multitask and see
- .05 BAC reduces your ability to react in an emergency, as well as harming your ability to steer and track the movements of other vehicles
The difference between a crash and a near miss is often milliseconds or inches. If a driver who injured you had not had that drink, they might have spotted you pulling out a split second earlier. They might have hauled the steering wheel over a few centimeters more to avoid you. Whether you call it buzzed driving or drunk driving, if alcohol played a role in someone crashing into you, they need to take responsibility.