Spotting an Intoxicated Driver
On an average day, one out of every 25 drivers is operating a motor vehicle legally drunk, according to data compiled by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). The percentage is higher on the weekends and evenings. Given those high statistics, you can help protect your family and friends from inebriated drivers by looking for these ten signs of intoxication in other drivers:
1. Stopping for no reason
A driver who has been drinking might be seen stopping at a green light or in the middle of an intersection that does not have a stop sign.
2. Slow response to traffic signals
An inebriated driver might take extra time to start through an intersection when a light turns green. They might also make a sudden stop when a light changes to red.
3. Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
An intoxicated driver may use their right hand turn signal and then turn left or vice versa.
4. Excessive braking
Since alcohol reduces a person’s ability to focus, a drunk driver might brake often to avoid collisions.
5. Not using headlights
Drunk drivers sometimes ‘forget’ to turn on their headlights, even when it is obvious they are needed.
Impaired drivers aren’t generally aggressive. When they tailgate it is usually to imitate the actions of the vehicle in front of them.
7. Driving too slowly
An intoxicated driver who is traveling more than 10 mph under the speed limit is often trying to be extra careful to avoid being detected.
8. Making wide turns
Drunk drivers have trouble judging distance and often will make very wide turns at simple corners.
9. Veering off the road
A driver who is intoxicated might veer off the road onto the shoulder or the median. You might also notice they will try to drive closer to the center line to avoid veering off the shoulder.
10. Hitting or nearly hitting objects near the road
Intoxicated drivers have blurred vision and delayed reaction time. This often results in collisions with parked cars, telephone poles, fire hydrants and other stationary items on the side of the road.
What should I do if I spot an intoxicated driver on the road?
- Do not get close to the other vehicle. Do not try to pass the vehicle or signal the driver to pull over. This could cause an accident.
- Try to remember (or have a passenger safely write down) the license plate number of the vehicle along with the make, model and color of the vehicle.
- Pull over to a safe location and call 911. Give the location of the vehicle, including the name of the road or highway and the direction it’s traveling. Describe the manner in which the vehicle is being driven. You do not have to give your name.
Leave everything else up to a law enforcement officer. Spotting someone who has been drinking and driving can be a scary and eye-opening experience. Do your part to keep our roads safe by always planning ahead with a designated driver.