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Tips: Sharing the Road with a Drunk Driver

Posted By David Hernandez || August 11, 2014


Car Driving at NightLiving in a city with so many drivers, and as a car accident lawyer in New York City, I have seen many accidents happen as a result of a driver deciding to slide behind the wheel after too much to drink.

While it is clear that these accidents are very rarely the fault of the sober driver, it may be important to know how to drive defensively in the event you see a drunk or impaired driver on the road — these tips could keep you safe and free of the injury and hassle of an accident.

First, this article offers some great advice for recognizing a drunk driver on the streets. While not all of these symptoms apply to all drivers who have been drinking, they are the most common signs that a driver may be
over the limit:

  • Weaving or zigzagging across the road frequently
  • Abruptly swerving or turning
  • Driving slower that 10 mph above the speed limit, or speeding excessively
  • Stopping inappropriately or without a visible reason
  • Driving in to oncoming traffic
  • Slow response to traffic signals (sudden stops and delayed starts)

Sometimes an intoxicated driver is easy to point out, other times it is extremely difficult to tell. Maybe the driver swerved because they were fiddling with the radio knob, or spilled their hot coffee. But if you
are sure that the person is drunk, or at least a serious danger to himself and others, the best thing you can do is call 911.

Letting the authorities know that there is a dangerous driver on the road will allow the situation to be handled properly. Even if it turns out that the individual was not truly impaired, better safe than sorry. If you’re sure a driver is impaired, don’t try to stop them or handle the situation yourself.

If you’re stuck in relatively heavy traffic with someone who you believe is impaired, and you can’t easily pass them up or get to another route, be prepared to drive defensively:

  • Get ready to take fast, evasive action if something goes wrong
  • Keep as much distance from the impaired driver as possible.
  • If a vehicle is coming right at you on collision course, pull off to right and honk you horn.

In some situations, drivers follow an impaired driver to ensure that they get to their destination safely, without accident or injury. If you choose to do this, keep in mind that there are some risks.

Don’t break any traffic laws in order to keep the driver in sight, and don’t follow to closely. Causing an accident in order to try to keep another driver safe probably isn’t worth it.

Keep this information in mind while you’re on the road in New York so that if you see an impaired driver, you will know how to act quickly to avoid an accident.

Photo Credit: faungg’s photo via Compfight cc