Why Do Drunk Drivers Survive?

Why Do Drunk Drivers Survive

There is no doubt that drunk driving has the potential to lead to severe accidents, and sometimes, when we lose sober people in the process and find that drivers under the influence survived, we begin to pose certain questions to understand the situation better. It is sometimes painful, especially for families who lose their loved ones in the process, to make sense of a situation like this.

This article will provide you with information on why drunk drivers are more likely to sustain less severe injuries in the case of a car crash as opposed to alert and non-intoxicated people. 

Alcohol as a relaxant

A human under stress will release chemicals that appear to be counterproductive to an accident. This is because they cause the body to become stiffer and the muscles to become tense and, as a result, suffer from more severe and life-threatening injuries and fractures. While these signals and chemicals are there to help a body prepare for incoming impact, the stiffness experienced can be detrimental.

Alcohol, on the other hand, has pleasurable effects on the body when consumed from time to time, causing the individual to reduce their anxiety and remain calm, composed, and relaxed, even in a stressful situation. So, in an accident, they’ll be like a ragdoll, i.e., soft, flexible, and yielding.

They’ll bounce upon impact because their brain will not try to oppose the natural laws of physics. For example, instead of trying to tense their muscles by holding the steering wheel tightly and resisting the transfer of all that forward momentum of the car that suddenly stops to their bodies, they’ll let themselves and their inner organs gain all that momentum, even if that means hitting something within the car or even smashing the windshield in the process.

How does alcohol achieve this?

Alcohol plays around with the neurotransmitters in the brain. For instance, it stops the release of Glutamate, an important excitatory neurotransmitter that allows you to react to stress by tensing up. Alcohol blocks the proper functioning of this neurotransmitter even at very low blood alcohol levels.

This means that the higher the levels are, the more the muscle-neurotransmitter coordination will be difficult. You won’t be able to consciously control the contraction and relaxation of your muscles, and even right before an accident, your body is likely to remain flaccid.  

So, how does being like a ragdoll help drunks survive?

When you don’t show any resistance to an incoming impact, you allow your body to fold and follow whatever course it may take. As a result, it won’t snap. Compare this to tense joints and muscles that might break or sustain severe injuries when you are hit suddenly.

To understand this phenomenon better, we can relate it to a real-life example. Imagine playing baseball. Someone strikes the ball hard, which then travels straight in your direction, and you have to catch it. If you stiffen your wrists and arms, the ball might hurt you far more than if you keep yourself relaxed.

A soft catch will absorb the shock of the impact by allowing your arm to bend in the same direction, thus allowing the momentum to be transferred from the ball to your arm. 

In addition to this, a tense body and mind might also sustain an adverse impact on the heart or might even cause heart failure because an accident is always a horrifying experience. 

Alcohol, on the other hand, pumps more blood around the body, and it pumps it faster, thereby giving the heart an edge over this traumatic experience. But you must remember that this effect remains valid if you consume alcohol within a reasonable limit. Beyond that, other factors come into play, and you might end up harming your body more than anything else. 

If we look at the positive side of things, even if a drunk driver suffers from various traumas, they will have a higher chance of surviving than a sober person. Not only will they survive a crash, but their hospital stay will be less than the sober victims as their injuries and traumas will be treated more quickly.         

However, this only applies to people who drink occasionally. For people who are habitual drinkers, the story is different. If they are in an accident, the incident can prove to be fatal for them since they have probably sustained significant damage to their livers, which impacts the rate at which their blood can clot after a trauma.

Legal problems after survival

Even if they survive the accident, they should be prepared for the legal issues they might have to deal with later on. Drunk driving is already punishable by law, but if we add to that the fact that an accident was caused or that there were people who were injured or who died in the process, the problem can quickly accumulate and become difficult to get out of. For instance, the accused might get a long jail sentence. 


Knowing that you harmed or killed someone is a huge weight on the mind, and many people do not have the strength to live with this guilt. If the guilt is too strong, the person concerned might suffer from depression or even try to commit suicide.

This is especially true if they aren’t surrounded by a loving community that encourages professional assistance to help them get through the trauma. Other than this, legal issues such as jail time might also cause depression. 

The best remedies to avoid a huge blunder

While every human being is prone to making mistakes, it is necessary to keep in mind that we can always train our minds to think in better ways so that we can reduce potential damages around it. We all know that doing anything after drinking can be dangerous, especially driving, since more lives are at risk.

We should, therefore, take concrete steps to ensure that our acts don’t harm other people. Here are a few things we can consider doing so that we are sure that we aren’t the cause of an accident:

1. Never drink and drive

Driving after drinking is the worst thing that you can do, and the worst part is that even though you might think of doing such a thing while sober, a drunk mind is much easier to convince.

If you feel that you are vulnerable to such an act, make sure to tell your friends to help keep an eye on you and to drop you home once the party is over.

And be sure to get picked up by a friend from your home so that you don’t feel the need to take your car in the first place. If you don’t have your car with you, you will have no other option but to ask someone to drop you back. 

2. Stop drinking altogether

While drinking is a nice social activity that everyone likes indulging in every now and then, you should remember that it leads to questionable actions.

Therefore, it is wise to strictly limit or stop the consumption of alcohol to make sure that you are never involved in something that might harm someone else. Once you do this, you will find yourself much happier and, not to mention healthier. 

3. Don’t drink too much

If you have a desire to drink, be sure to limit your drinking to one or two glasses and not more. This will make sure that you get the buzz you desire but remain in the right frame of mind to not commit a serious error. If you aren’t drunk, you will be in the capacity to make better judgments and ensure that you aren’t putting another person’s life at risk. 

4. Try socializing without drinking

If you are heading out with your friends, recommend to them restaurants or cafes that don’t serve alcohol. Sober nights out are always great every once in a while because they give you a chance to really connect with the people around you.

Contrary to this experience, drunk nights are forgotten in most cases, and you don’t get to truly experience a wonderful evening surrounded by the people you love. 


It’s almost a paradox that while being drunk can lead you to have more accidents, these accidents might be less harmful to you. But, despite this glimmer of good news, you must remember that accidents are horrible events, and no one should have to live through them.

To avoid these at all costs, we need to be concerned citizens and act appropriately. Even if you’ve had a glass of alcohol, driving after that is strictly not recommended because you might not be fully concentrated on the road. If you are fearful that you might make an error, seek someone’s help. They can keep an eye on you and make sure that even if you’re drinking, you remain responsible. 

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