In my work as a legal copywriter, I often read and write about tragic motor vehicle collisions that result in fatality or life-threatening injuries. The causal factor in many of these incidents is drunk driving. I often pray for victims and their families, as well as for those whose irresponsible and reckless choices may have led to disaster. I can only imagine how it feels to grieve the loss of loved ones whose lives were abruptly cut short because of drunk drivers. As a writer, I’m often left feeling frustrated, sad and even angry because such collisions are so easily preventable.
No matter how cautious and alert we are behind the wheels of our vehicles, we can’t control other drivers’ actions. It’s a fact that every licensed driver is legally obligated to adhere to all traffic laws and safety regulations. The problem is that this fact does not guarantee our safety. Many people drive without valid licenses. Others could not care less about existing laws or regulations. In a perfect world, every driver would have the safety and best interests of those who share the road in mind. In reality, there are a lot of drunk drivers out there, so it’s a good idea to learn how to recognize signs of driver intoxication.
Drunk drivers often forget to use headlights
One of the most common errors drunk drivers make is forgetting to turn on headlights at night. Someone who has had too much drink might wander out of a bar or restaurant or private party, get into his or her car and drive off. If you notice a vehicle traveling after dusk or in inclement weather that is making it dark during the daytime without headlights on, be especially alert. Stay as far away from the vehicle as possible. The driver might be drunk.
Depth perception poses a problem for drunk drivers
When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it has numerous effects on the body. Alcohol affects each person’s body differently; however, one thing most drunk drivers have in common is impeded depth perception. If you’re witnessing a drunk driving episode, you might notice a driver taking turns far too widely or clipping curbs on tight bends. Drunk drivers also often come dangerously close to parked vehicles or other stationary objects. Pedestrians are at great risk if they are nearby as well.
Why is that driver sitting so close to the steering wheel?
If you notice a driver scrunched to the edge of his or her seat with a tight grip on the steering wheel, watch out! This is a common sign of driver intoxication. Drunk drivers often squint as well, and it looks as though they’re trying to get as close to their windshields as possible. You are wise to be alert and especially cautious if you witness this type of driving behavior.
Trouble keeping with traffic flow
Drunk drivers have a lot of difficulty aligning their patterns with current traffic flow. Is a driver near you erratically applying his or her brakes at random times? Do you notice someone tailgating you? Is the driver in front of you sitting at a green light because he or she doesn’t seem to realize that the light is no longer red? Also, if you notice someone traveling excessively below the posted speed limit, beware! These are all signs of a possible drunk driver.
Drunk drivers often veer out of their lanes
Many fatal drunk driving collisions occur when intoxicated drivers careen into oncoming lanes of traffic. Such disasters also often occur when drunk drivers hop curbs and slam into pedestrians, homes or business establishments. If you notice a vehicle veering over the yellow line, you have definite cause to be concerned. Also be aware that texting and driving causes behaviors and vehicle movements that are quite similar to those exhibited by drunk drivers. Either way, you’re in great danger if a driver nearby is showing signs of intoxication or distraction.
Report it, if you can
If you’re able to safely pull off the road and dial 911, you can report a suspicious driver. It’s helpful to be able to tell dispatchers a license plate number. Color, year and make of vehicle are helpful details, too. The key here is to avoid doing anything that increases your risk of injury. Don’t cut across lanes of high-speed traffic to pull off the road. Don’t try to write a number down while you’re driving. Do what you can without further placing yourself or those around you in harm’s way.
Keep these thoughts about drunk drivers in mind
First, don’t be one. A drunk driving collision is one of the easiest roadway incidents to prevent. Make responsible decisions and choices regarding alcohol consumption and operation of motor vehicles. Obey the law. Next, keep in mind that by the time a person faces his or her first arrest for drunk driving, he or she has probably driven under the influence at least 80 times. Finally, learn the truth about how alcohol affects the body and don’t make choices based on misguided information. Coffee and cold showers do not sober you up. Drinking beer instead of whiskey does not prevent intoxication. Drinking only two drinks doesn’t guarantee that your blood alcohol content level has not exceeded the legal limit for driving.
Help spread the word about how to recognize signs of drunk driving by sharing this post on your social media pages. We can pray for those whose lives have been devastated by drunk drivers. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction, you can tap into support resources here. Help is available.