Research from a Swedish medical institute has led to some surprising conclusions about alcohol and driving: that the most damage caused in accidents where alcohol is a factor comes from a greater number of drivers with moderate alcohol consumption rather than the small percentage of extremely intoxicated drivers.

The findings were part of a doctoral thesis written by Herve Kuendig at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. In order to gain an understanding of the damage caused by alcohol, Kuendig studied the association between consumption and injuries treated at an emergency ward in a Swiss hospital. His thesis is based on interviews with patients who were treated for injuries caused by vehicle accidents.

Kuendig’s research found that while it’s true that those who drink vast quantities of alcohol are at a higher risk of injury than their more sensible counterparts, the risk of injury is still increased when drivers have only had small amounts of alcohol – even a single glass.

The news may come as a surprise to many, especially considering that many countries have a legal driving limit for alcohol that allows for one or two drinks for drivers. However, Kuendig’s research shows that even this ‘safe’ amount is enough to increase the risk of injury.

While the results are surprising, Kuendig's findings take a relatively skewed sample base and whether or not interviewees gave truthful answers is anyone's guess. Nevertheless, there was one unsurprising result - on Friday and Saturday, 80% of injuries in the hospital unit were alcohol related.