Alcohol, accidents often linked in subway system

Too much drink could affect your balance, doctors say.

Booze may be to blame in nearly half of all accidental subway deaths, according to an analysis by the New York City medical examiner’s office.

Of 76 accidental deaths chronicled between January 2003 and May 2007, 42 percent of straphangers had been drinking — a lot, the medical examiner’s report found. The average blood alcohol content of accident victims was .20, which is more than double the legal limit to drive a car.

“You’re visibly impaired,” doctor James Gill, one of the two doctors who published the report, told the New York Daily News about the impact of a .20 BAC. “Your speech may be slurred, your gait erratic. You’re pretty intoxicated.”

A similar study that analyzed subway accidents between 1990 and 2003 showed that most of the victims were men, 90 percent to be exact.

The worst indicator of the unsavory relationship between alcohol and subway accidents is the hour they occur. The majority of accidental subway deaths happen just after 4 a.m., when New York City’s bars close and their inebriated patrons attempt to ride home.

Last year, the Department of Health ran a series of ads that targeted excessive drinking, pleading with New Yorkers to cut back on binge drinking.

The advertisements featured bloodied and slumped straphangers and warned “Two drinks ago you could still get yourself home.”

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro


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