If you saw someone leave a suspicious looking bag under the seat in a subway just before leaving the train, would you call the police? Of course you would. Unfortunately, you likely wouldn’t be as civic minded if you saw someone driving drunk–the one thing that causes more wrongful deaths and injuries than any other in the US. This is because you likely don’t know what to look for and what to do if you spot someone driving or trying to drive drunk. So here are some ideas on what to look for to spot someone who is likely driving drunk and what to do if you do.
One of the surest ways to tell if someone is driving impaired is if he accelerates quickly and brakes continuously. No normal person would do this. Another sign is if someone almost hits another car, street sign or other object. Some obvious signs are if you see someone driving in the opposite lane against traffic, changing traffic lanes often, not staying in between the lane markers, turning suddenly without signals and driving without headlights. Driving too slow can also be a sign that something is wrong and the most likely cause is drunk driving.
These are far too common events on our roads and we will see them every day. But if we see someone who is most likely drunk while driving, we likely won’t do anything for the simple reason that we don’t know what to do. So what exactly is the best way to react if we have good reason to suspect that someone is driving while impaired? Here is a list:
The first thing to do is stay away from the drunk driver, the farther away the better. The worst thing you can do is drive up to or alongside the offender to try and see if he is really drunk or just having some other difficulty. It is not your job to guess and someone’s life may be in danger. Worse, the impaired driver may get confused and hit you. Next, if you are able to without putting yourself in danger, take note of the driver’s license plate number along with details of his auto’s make, model and color and then try to stop as soon and as safely as possible. One way to take note of the number safely is to read it to yourself aloud and keep repeating it aloud until you are able to stop safely. Then, while you are still repeating the number aloud to yourself and have stopped, write it down as quickly as possible, along with the details about the offender’s car–the make, model, color. You will also want to note the road he was traveling on and in what direction, and any cross streets that you may have just crossed. Then call 911 immediately and read them all of this information.
There is no need for you to do anything else. Just leave the rest to the police as they know best how to safely handle the situation.