Although mixed drinks can be relaxing and fun in moderation, alcohol can also cause severe impairment without being noticed. This is why one of the main things you should never mix with alcohol—is driving. Many people believe that if they only have a few drinks, they’ll be perfectly able to drive. Unfortunately, these same people contribute to the national DUI traffic fatality rate.
How can you protect yourself from other people’s poor decisions? You can pay attention and watch out for signs of trouble.
Identifying a Drunk Driver Before It’s Too Late
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 10,000 people a year die in DUI accidents. To put it in perspective, this means that every 51 minutes, a person who has had too much to drink convinces himself that he is competent enough to get behind the wheel of a two ton car—and as a result of a stupid decision, he causes pain and suffering for an entire family.
Although you can help prevent your friends and family from making this tragic mistake, unfortunately, you can’t control every driver on the road. Therefore, in order to protect your family, you must try to avoid potentially inebriated drivers by identifying the signs of drunk driving. These include:
- Random speed changes. When a car speeds up, slows down, then speeds up again without any particular reason, it could be an indication that the driver is unaware of his surroundings, or dozing off due to too much alcohol.
- Following too close, or misjudging distance. When a driver is drunk, it can be hard for him to properly judge distance. This can causes him to follow too closely, take extremely wide (or extremely tight) turns, get too close while passing, and even possibly strike objects, people, and vehicles that he thought were farther away than they really were.
- Peculiar driving. Swerving, swaying, lane changes, or jerking are all good signs that the driver can either not see clearly, or is completely oblivious of the road in front of him. Either way, you should steer clear of him.
- Erratic braking. Stopping at empty crosswalks, inching toward and through green lights, or heavy braking could be a sign of alcohol-induced paranoia. Some drivers become overly cautious when they know they’ve had too much to drink. Instead of pulling over to sober up or getting a cab, many drivers will continue to drive but erratically stop or continuously overcorrect for fear that they’ll be pulled over.
- Confused signaling. Sometimes drunk drivers realize that they need to be following traffic rules such as signaling, but they become easily distracted and confused. This leads drunk drivers to use the signals too much, use the wrong signals, or forget to turn them off altogether.
Protecting Your Family Further
Drunk driving has unfortunately become an epidemic in the United States. Although enforcement and awareness has increased, and fatalities have slightly decreased, the number of DUI incidents overall has remained the same. Fortunately, as long as you stay aware of your surroundings, teach your children that drinking and driving don’t go together, and make sure your family and friends know their risks, you can help protect your loved ones from a tragic accident.
Help us keep our roads safe by raising DUI awareness through your social media. Simply click the Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus icons to instantly share this page with your friends. Sometimes knowledge is enough to persuade someone to make the right decision—help him get the knowledge he needs. You never know, you could wind up saving a life.
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