Drunk drivers are deadly, and there are far too many of them out there on the roads leaving behind mental, physical and financial devastation wherever they go. Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 32 people a day are killed in such wrecks – and many more are injured.
What, if anything, can you do to protect yourself and your family from such drivers? Knowing how to spot a driver who may be impaired can help. Here are some signs that should concern you.
Swerving, overcorrections and strange stops
Drinking slows down a driver’s reflexes, so intoxicated drivers often swerve over the center line, hit curbs, or swing too wide when they make turns. They also sometimes stop too far ahead of a traffic light – or ride into the intersection before they finally come to a stop.
Tailgating, aggressive gestures and speeding
Drinking also reduces a driver’s inhibitions, so aggressive driving is often tied with intoxication. If you are being tailgated or a driver is gesturing wildly at you in frustration over a perceived slight, it’s probably best to assume that they’re impaired. Speeding, too, can be a signal that someone is impaired.
Missing headlights and erratic or unreliable turn signals
Drunk driving is especially common at night, and you may spot a driver who seems to have forgotten that they put their turn signal on three miles back or one that has totally forgotten to put on their headlights. Those are immediate danger signals.
What should you do if you see an impaired driver?
Do not try to block the other vehicle or engage with a driver you believe is impaired. Instead, try to get a good look at the vehicle, it’s license and it’s direction. Then, put some distance between yourself and the other driver (which usually means pulling over). As soon as you can do so safely, call 911 and report whatever information you have to the police.
Despite your best efforts, you may still end up seriously injured in a wreck with a drunk driver. If that happens, find out more about your legal options for recovery.