Drunk driving is a serious problem in our country, especially around the holidays. Every day close to 30 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes. The risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident is too high for comfort. Over the past five years, close to 300 family members and friends lost their lives in DUI accidents during the Christmas through New Year’s holiday period.
With the increased risk of tragedy on our roads this holiday season, how can you prevent yourself or someone you love from falling victim to a drunk or drugged driving accident? By following these New Year’s safe driving tips, you can do your best to ensure your safety as a driver, passenger, pedestrian and cyclist.
Even with a heightened awareness of unsafe behaviors behind the wheel and the expanded safety measures used to combat them, people still break the law. Despite all the warnings and DUI checkpoints, there are going to be drunk drivers on the road this winter. In fact, now that marijuana is legal, you can expect more impaired drivers on your route than ever before.
Here are the New Year’s Eve safe driving tips you should follow if you come across a suspected DUI driver:
- Stay as far away from the suspected DUI driver as possible. Do not try to pass them or follow them.
- Take note of any distinguishing features of the car, including license plate, make, model, color and year. If you have a passenger, ask them to do this for you. Do not put yourself in an unsafe position to get this information.
- Call 9-11. If your car is equipped with hands-free calling, you can do this immediately. However, if you car does not then ask a passenger to make the call. If you are driving alone and have no safe way of dialing the phone, safely pull over before calling the police.
- Give the police all the information you have. This includes: your location, the location you last saw the suspected impaired driver, the direction they were headed, and the distinguishing features you took note of.
- Back off. Once you have reported the unsafe driver to the police, you have done your duty as a concerned citizen. As a result, the rest is up to the police. In addition, do not get close to the other driver and do not allow yourself to become distracted from your own driving.
Know The Signs Of Impaired Driving
Not sure if you’re witnessing a drunk or drugged driver? Here are the signs of impaired driving according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD):
- Quick acceleration or deceleration
- Weaving or zig-zagging across the road
- Driving anywhere other than on a road designated for vehicles
- Almost striking an object, curb, or vehicle
- Stopping without cause or erratic braking
- Drifting in and out of traffic lanes
- Signaling that is inconsistent with driving actions
- Poor response to traffic signals (e.g. sudden stop or delayed start)
- Straddling the center lane marker
- Driving with headlights off at night
- Driving slower than 10 mph below the speed limit
- Turning abruptly or illegally
- Driving into opposing traffic on the wrong side of the road
Be Aware Of The Dangers Of Drunk Driving
If you think you have had one too many drinks, or are worried about the impairment of the person planning on giving you a ride, do not risk it. Stay out of the car. Drunk driving accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, some of which last a lifetime. In addition, non-fatal drunk driving accidents can result in the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Torn ligaments
- Spinal cord damage
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Severed limbs
- Severe burns
Drunk Driving Statistics
According to the CDC, in 2016, more than a million people were apprehended for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
MADD estimates that more than 300,000 people drive drunk every day, yet data shows that roughly only 3200 are caught. This means that adults drink too much and still got behind the wheel close to 121 million times per year.
In fact, in 2013, 28.7 million drivers admitted to driving while under the influence.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approximates that one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the U.S. involve drunk drivers.
Are You Safe To Drive?
It is illegal in all 50 states to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. In addition, some states are considering lowering the BAC to .05. However, even if you are under the state limit, you may not be safe to drive. In 2017, data from the NHTSA shows that 1,837 people died in drunk driving accidents where the impaired driver had a lower BAC of .01 to .07.
MADD states that the average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour. As a result, if you had had more than one drink an hour, chances are you are not safe to drive.
Be A Responsible Driver
Being a responsible driving means making sure that not only you do not drive impaired, but that those around you do not as well. This New Year’s Eve, make sure that you have arranged a safe ride home before you start drinking.
Whether you have a designated driver, or have downloaded a ride sharing app, it is important to have a plan in place before your judgement is compromised. If you see a friend or family member drinking, make sure they have a ride home as well. In addition, do not be afraid to take the keys of someone too drunk to drive.
New Year’s Safe Driving Tips: Call Sweet James
Sweet James hopes these safe driving tips will help you during the holiday season. While no one plans to be in a drunk driving accident, it is always good to be prepared for an emergency. Save Sweet James’ number in your phone in case the unexpected happens and you find yourself in need of help: (800) 500-5200
Consultations are free. Sweet James employs an experienced team of auto accident and personal injury attorneys who will help you recover your losses. Above all, we want to help get you back out on the road again.