Drunks on the Road: How Should You Respond?
It happens every day. Drunk drivers get on the roads and risk the lives of our friends and loved ones. Sometimes, we witness these drivers on the road, weaving in and out of lanes or traveling down a highway going the wrong direction. Whenever this happens, responsible drivers are left asking themselves—what do I do? Here are some answers from the people at Mike Smith Collision Center in Beaumont, TX, because we too have encountered drunk drivers risking other people’s lives and wondered what to do.
Common sense tells you to stay as far away from the other vehicle as possible. Your first thought will be to try and pass the car or signal the driver to pull over. Don’t do it, because doing so could result in a collision.
The safest thing to do is write down the license plate number along with details of the vehicle including make, model and color. However, make sure you don’t risk your own safety trying to acquire this information.
Finally, pull over and call 911. Give the exact location of the vehicle, including the name of the road or cross streets and the direction the vehicle is traveling. Give a comprehensive and succinct description of the vehicle and the manner in which the vehicle is being driven.
Here are the signs that tell you a drunk driver is on the road:
- Straddling center lane or lane marker.
- Driving at very slow speed - at least 10 mph below the limit.
- Following another car too closely.
- Narrowly missing another car or object by passing too closely.
- Braking erratically.
- Driving without headlights.
- Signaling inconsistently with what they are doing.
- Almost hitting an object or another vehicle.
- Taking erratic wide turns.
- Weaving from one side of the road to the other.
- Driving on the wrong side of the road or on the shoulder.
- Stopping inappropriately as at green lights and crosswalks without pedestrians in sight.
What you should do:
- Stay as far behind the suspected drunk driver as you can.
- Get out of the way and expect the unexpected.
- Wear your safety belt (and make sure that any children or other passengers have their safety belts fastened as well) - It is one of your best defenses against a drunk driver.
- Stop right away and look for a phone.
- Report suspected and impaired drivers to the state or local police by dialing 911 or *SP on your cellular phone. Give the location, direction of travel and description of the car and driver's behavior.
What not to do:
- Do not try to pass the car!
- Do not try to stop the vehicle.
- Do not follow too closely. The car may stop abruptly.
- Do not attempt to act in the capacity of the police. Do not try to detain or confront the driver. Call the police and let them take care of it!
Then leave the rest up to the heroes that work hard to make our roads safe for all of us. Drunks are going to be a reality on the roads and highways of our country, especially during holidays. If you can be alert and prepared when you encounter a drunk driver, you can save lives—including your own.
At Mike Smith Collision Center in Beaumont, we know that alcohol and gasoline don’t mix, so adhere to these helpful tips and avoid a collision or worse.