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Drink can make drivers go 'blind'.

One stiff drink can literally make a driver blind drunk, a study has shown.

A mild dose of alcohol seriously impaired the ability of distracted volunteers to see an unexpected object, researchers found.

On the road, it could result in a fatal moment of blindness.

The phenomenon is well known and described as "inat-tentional blindness". It occurs when an individual focused on another task fails to spot an object appearing unexpectedly in his or her visual field.

The new study, conducted in the United States, was the first to show that inattentional blindness is affected by alcohol.

Volunteers were given ten minutes to consume drinks which either did or did not contain alcohol.

They then watched a 25 second video clip showing two teams of three people playing with a ball. Participants were asked to count the number of times the ball was passed.

Part way through the clip, a person in a gorilla suit appeared on the screen, walked straight through the players, beat his chest, and walked away.

Though the gorilla took up more than a third of the video time, volunteers missed it because they were too busy concentrating on counting ball passes.

Those who were mildly intoxicated were twice as likely not to spot the gorilla.

Study leader Dr Seema Cli-fasefi, from the University of Washington in Seattle said: "If you've had one drink, you may be so focused on paying attention to your speed so as not to get pulled over, that you completely miss seeing the pedestrian that walks directly in front of your car."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 30, 2006
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