It was around 1:30 a.m. when you finally finished catching up at the office. Since you figured not a lot of people would be on the road this late, you decided to take Olney home instead of the highway. As you were stopped at a stop sign, you watched a station wagon slowly roll out of the Birch’s parking lot. You tried not to think much of it, but as you watched, the wagon proceeded to run over the curb when the driver turned and then continued down the road swerving in and out of both lanes.
Instead of continuing on behind him, you decided to let him put some distance between the two of you. However, since he is obviously drunk, and could potentially cause an accident, what else should you do?
Four Steps to Take When You See a Drunk Driver
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that every two minutes a victim is injured by a drunk driver, and every day 30 people are killed in drunk driving accidents. In 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration polled over 30 million people who admitted to driving while intoxicated within that year alone. This means that in one year, the number of drunk drivers on U.S. roads exceeded the combined populations of Virginia and North Carolina by over 10 million dangerous drivers.
Unfortunately, no matter how many tickets are issued, how many tragic news stories explain the facts, and how many people are killed each year, people will still drive when they’ve had too much to drink. However, just because they make dangerously poor decisions doesn’t mean that you can’t attempt to protect yourself and family from their reckless behavior.
If you suspect a driver near you is intoxicated and is putting your family at risk as a result of his erratic driving, follow these steps to increase your distance and protect your family from a possibly catastrophic accident:
- Make sure everyone in the car is properly wearing their seat belts. Seat belts are the best defense in any type of accident when a collision can’t be avoided.
- If the suspected drunk driver is in front of you, slow down and stay as far behind him as you can; this way, if he makes any sudden movements, slams on the brakes, or goes off the road, you won’t be caught in the aftermath.
- If you are in front of the driver, try to safely get out of his way, but expect the unexpected. If possible and safe, either pull over and give him plenty of room to pass you, or turn off to avoid him altogether.
- Report suspected and impaired drivers to the local police by dialing the emergency number 911, State Patrol by dialing *SP, or the Highway Patrol by dialing *HP on your cellular phone. Give the location, direction of travel, and description of the car and driver's behavior. If you are alone in the car, wait until you are stopped or safely out of harms way before dialing. If there are passengers with you, have a passenger call the authorities.
A person who drives drunk doesn’t even care that he may hurt himself, so do you think he cares about potentially hurting you, your spouse, or your family? Although the number of drunk driving incidents has decreased dramatically since the start of advocacy programs like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), IDDPA (International Drunk Driving Prevention Association), and SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving), you and your family are still at risk.
Make sure your loved ones are aware of what to do if (and when) they spot a drunk driver. Share this page with them via email, Facebook, or Twitter. Click on the media icons on this page to share now, or contact us directly for more information and support.