Call it the dark side of the holidays — along with presents and more time with family, you run into increased risk of encountering drivers who partook of too much holiday cheer on the roads at this time of year.
According to the NHTSA, 41% of traffic fatalities that occur around New Year’s Eve involved impaired drivers. As a trucker, it’s important be on the lookout for drunk drivers this time of year. While many of the signs of a drunk driver are hard to ignore (swerving all over the road, swigging whiskey behind the wheel), others are more subtle. Here are some clues to watch out for.
- Super slow driving. We tend to think of drunk drivers as speed demons, but many impaired drivers go way below the speed limit as a precautionary measure or to try to avoid attracting attention from the police.
- Braking for no reason. If you can’t figure out why the car in front of you keeps tapping its brakes, be on the alert. This is a classic drunk driving tip off.
- Extra wide turns.
- Forgetting to turn headlights on.
- Delayed response to traffic signals. If it takes forever for the driver in front of you to notice the light is green, texting might not be to blame. It could be because she is under the influence.
- Following too closely.
- Failing to signal.
- Signaling that is inconsistent with actual driving behavior. If a driver has their left turn blinker on forever, then suddenly turns right, be wary.
If you do spot a driver that you believe is drunk, here’s what you can do.
- Give them plenty of room.
- Don’t try to pass the suspected impaired driver or try to signal for them to pull over. This increases the chance of a crash.
- If you’re stuck in heavy traffic with a suspected drunk driver, plan an escape route.
- Pull over and contact police.