Every single day, around 30 people die in the US in drunk-driving crashes. Countless more are injured, and in total, over 10,000 lives are lost due to drunk driving each and every year, with the vast majority of these incidents occurring due to slower reactions and lower levels of focus in drivers who have been drinking.
The statistics make for harrowing reading, and despite the vast number of deaths and accidents, as well as general public knowledge and awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, many people still end up behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.
Even if you would never drink and drive, you may still find yourself dealing with drunk drivers on the roads, so let’s look at some ways to handle that kind of situation, before looking at a few top tips to help yourself and those you know to minimize the risk of ever getting behind the wheel while intoxicated too.
Dealing With Drunk Drivers
First, let’s focus on some ways to cope when you encounter drunk drivers on the road.
Wearing a seatbelt is one of the safest and simplest ways to improve your odds of survival or only suffering minor injuries, if an accident occurs, with statistics showing that belts are able to save thousands of lives every year.
Ideally, you’ll want to avoid being in any accidents at all, but you can’t control the reckless actions of others, especially drunk drivers who may be on the road around you. This is why it’s always wise to buckle up and ensure that your passengers are all wearing their seatbelts too.
Be Extra Careful When Pulling Out
If you’re driving late at night, the risks of encountering drunk drivers are higher, and this is when you need to be extra careful when pulling out at intersections or turning left or right onto a different street.
Many drunk drivers will drive right on through red lights or fail to stop at stop signs, so even if you technically have the right to drive ahead, it can be wise to look left and right a couple of extra times, just to be sure that nobody else is about to pull out.
This is a simple rule when driving in general, but it becomes especially important in the evenings or at weekends when the odds of encountering drunk drivers are even higher than usual. It’s so important to avoid any distractions and keep your eyes focused on the road.
Be aware of other drivers and pay close attention to the vehicles around you. It’s often quite easy to spot a drunk driver, as they’ll drive quite abnormally, swerving around, changing speeds, and ignoring other road users or signs around them.
Keep Your Distance
If you spot someone who seems to be driving a little erratically ahead of you and suspect that they might be under the influence, the best way to deal with this is to keep your distance. A drunk driver might swerve across lanes without using signals or brake suddenly and without warning.
You don’t want to be anywhere near them if and when that happens, so be sure to keep extra distance behind them and you may even want to simply pull over and wait for the vehicle to be out of sight before continuing on your journey. This would also give you an opportunity to call law enforcement and report the driver.
Preventing Yourself From Driving Drunk
Next, let’s take a look at a few ways to prevent yourself from becoming a drunk driver and risking lives on the road.
Just Don’t Drive
One of the golden rules when it comes to the risks of drunk driving is that if you aren’t sure whether or not you’re over the limit, don’t drive. It’s as simple as that, and these days, there are lots of other ways to get around like cabs and rideshare apps such as Uber or Lyft.
You can also choose to call a friend or family member to pick you up if you’re worried about not being totally in control of the vehicle, and it’s always better to err on the side of caution in these kinds of situations.
Take Your Time
Despite the many myths and purported ‘miracle cures’ to help you sober up, the only real way to get sober is to wait it out while the liver processes the alcohol in your system. So, if you’ve been drinking and need to drive later on, you need to wait before getting behind the wheel.
If you’re with friends, stop drinking a couple of hours before you plan to leave and spend that time doing other things and enjoying the night, or if you’ve been at the bar and everyone else has gone home, consider taking a walk or getting something to eat to kill some time and let your body recover. If you still feel dizzy or unfocused after that, call a cab or a friend instead of driving.
Know Your Limits
One good way to prevent yourself from ever getting behind the wheel while under the influence is to know your own limits. You are allowed to have a little drink and still drive, but you need to pace yourself and stick to the rules.
Many people are able to metabolize a beer, a glass of wine, or a shot within an hour, but some people might have slightly slow metabolic rates and need to drink a little less. In general, if you’re out at a bar or restaurant with friends and plan on driving later, try to limit yourself to just one drink, and if you’re the sort of person who feels drunk quite quickly, make it a small drink.
Drunk driving is ending dozens of lives every single day, and it will take a collective effort if we’re ever going to solve this problem and minimize the risks for everyone. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re having a drink or hitting the road in the evening to keep yourself and others safe.