According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash every two minutes. This means that by the time you’re done reading this article, someone will be injured by a drunk driver. Sound scary? It is. Drunk driving affects everyone: the driver, possible passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers on the road – not to mention the devastation it causes friends and family members of the victim. Knowing what to do when you’re faced with a drunk driver is very important to keeping the death and injury rates down.
Most of us think it’s as simple as seeing someone swerve on the road. This is a high indication that the driver is under the influence, but they can also be driving exhausted or distracted on their phone, which can cause the same harm. Keep your eyes out for drivers who accelerate or decelerate quickly. Other red flags are tailgating, stopping without cause, or erratic breaking. You may also notice the driver using signals that aren’t consistent with their driving actions. Be on guard if you see a car driving without headlights at night, driving 10 mph below the speed limit, and obviously, if they’re driving recklessly. If you see these signs, chances are, you’re witnessing someone driving under the influence.
You spotted someone possibly drunk driving. What do you do next? We all want to be Good Samaritans, but this doesn’t mean putting ourselves or our loved ones in danger. There are safe ways to be proactive, and staying as far away from that suspicious vehicle is one of them. You also don’t want to try and pass the vehicle or signal the driver to pull over because this often results in a collision. If you can, make note of the color of the vehicle and license plate number. Remember that the person behind the wheel is most likely not going to have proper judgement. Make sure to stay back, and when safe, pull over. Once you’ve safely pulled over, call 911. Give the dispatch a clear location and the direction the car was headed. Give them any details you remember, and describe how and what alarmed you about their driving. After this, leave it up to law enforcement to handle the situation.
Finally, please remember that the best way to prevent someone from drunk driving is always having a designated driver. If you’re caught in a situation where you’re trying to prevent someone from drunk driving, know that you’re dealing with someone who is intoxicated, so have patience. Make sure that you are non-confrontational, and suggest an alternate way for them to get home, like Uber, a taxi, or sober friend. When you’re talking, try annunciating more, speaking slowly, and elaborating on your explanation, so the impaired person can understand you better. Remind them that you value their life, and you don’t want them to hurt themselves or someone else. If you’re in the position to do so, suggest that they sleep over. Try to grab another person to help prove your point in the same calm and suggestive manner. It’s harder for the impaired to turn down two or more people. If you can, obtain their keys, and keep them in a safe place. If nothing else works, call law enforcement. Happy Holidays, and drive safely!