Effect of ethylic alcohol on attentive functions involved in driving abilities

U. Bivona, S. Garbarino, J. Rigon, M. G. Buzzi, G. Onder, M. Matteis, S. Catani, M. Giustini, G. L. Mancardi, R. Formisano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The burden of injuries due to drunk drivers has been estimated only indirectly. Indeed, alcohol is considered one of the most important contributing cause of car crash injuries and its effect on cognitive functions needs to be better elucidated. Aims of the study were i) to examine the effect of alcohol on attentive abilities involved while driving, and ii) to investigate whether Italian law limits for safe driving are sufficiently accurate to prevent risky behaviours and car crash risk while driving. We conducted a cross-over study at IRCCS Fondazione SantaLucia Rehabilitation Hospital in Rome. Thirty-two healthy subjects were enrolled in this experiment. Participants were submitted to an attentive test battery assessing attention before taking Ethylic Alcohol (EA-) and after taking EA (EA+). In the EA+ condition subjects drank enough white wine until the blood alcohol concentration, measured by means of Breath Analyzer, was equal to or higher than 0,5 g/l. Data analysis revealed that after alcohol assumption, tonic and phasic alertness, selective, divided attention and vigilance were significantly impaired when BAC level was at least 0.5 g/l. These data reveal that alcohol has a negative effect on attentive functions which are primarily involved in driving skills and that Italian law limits are adequate to prevent risky driving behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives Italiennes de Biologie
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Attentive functions
  • Driving skills
  • Ethylic alcohol
  • Public safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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