Being a safe, responsible driver entails following all traffic laws, behaving courteously towards others, and limiting distractions, such as mobile devices, within your vehicle. It also involves staying sober behind the wheel, as driving under the influence can cause serious harm to yourself and others.
Even if you take this responsibility seriously, there may come a time when you encounter a drunk driver on the road. If so, taking the rights steps is crucial to preserve your safety, and potentially prevent injuries to others. Here are a few things you can do to limit the fallout caused by drunk driving.
Know the signs of an inebriated driver
Because being under the influence of drugs and alcohol causes significant physical impairment, inebriated drivers often exhibit similar characteristics. Many impaired drivers have difficulty staying within their lanes. They may drift from side to side, drive on the shoulder, or even cross the center line into the oncoming lane. Impaired drivers may also go the wrong speed, either driving too fast or slow. They may lag behind at stoplights and make illegal maneuvers, such as turning onto a one-way street. At night, a driver may forget to turn on their headlights. Signaling can also be impacted, which makes it difficult to anticipate a motorist’s actions.
Keep your distance if you suspect inebriation
While the above signs do not always mean that a person is driving under the influence of a substance, it does signal that you should exercise caution. In general, it is recommended that you keep at least two seconds between yourself and other vehicles (you can judge the distance by counting the number of seconds it takes for your car to reach a landmark the preceding vehicle just passed). With a suspected inebriated driver, you may want to increase the distance to three or four seconds so you can sufficiently react to any unexpected maneuvers.
Safely note the details of the vehicle
Under no circumstances should you attempt to pursue the vehicle to apprehend the driver. You can alert the authorities in a manner that ensures your safety, as well as the safety of other drivers. Take note of the make, model, and color of the vehicle driving erratically. If you can, look at the license plate. Even a partial plate number can help police find the vehicle, especially when combined with the location where the vehicle was seen. Only take these measures from a safe distance and while retaining full control of your vehicle. When you have enough information, pull over in a safe location and call the police.