The hazardous (mis)perception of Self-estimated Alcohol intoxication and Fitness to drivE-an avoidable health risk: the SAFE randomised trial.
BACKGROUND: Worldwide, alcohol-related road traffic accidents represent a major avoidable health risk. The aim of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of self-estimating the degree of acute alcohol intoxication regarding the legal driving limit, and to identify risk factors for misjudgement. METHODS: In this prospective randomised controlled crossover trial, 90 social drinkers (mean age 23.9 ± 3.5 years, 50% female) consumed either beer or wine. Study group subjects were made aware when exceeding the legal driving limit (BrAC = 0.05%). Controls received no information about their BrAC. For crossover, beer or wine were consumed in the opposite order. RESULTS: 39-53% of all participants exceeded the legal driving limit whilst under the impression to be still permitted to drive. Self-estimation was significantly more accurate on study day 2 (p = 0.009). Increasing BrAC positively correlated with self-estimation inaccuracy, which was reproducible during crossover. Multiple regression analysis revealed fast drinking and higher alcohol levels as independent risk factors for inaccurate self-estimation. CONCLUSIONS: Social drinkers are commonly unaware of exceeding the legal driving limit when consuming alcohol. Self-estimating alcohol intoxication can be improved through awareness. Dedicated awareness programs, social media campaigns and government advice communications should be utilised to address this avoidable hazard. Trial registration The trial was registered prospectively at the Witten/Herdecke University Ethics Committee (trial registration number 140/2016 on 04/11/2016) and at the DRKS-German Clinical Trials Register (trial registration number DRKS00015285 on 08/22/2018-Retrospectively registered). Trial protocol can be accessed online.