When you’re driving, you’re in control of your vehicle, but you can’t control what others do. If someone else has been drinking or using drugs, their actions can lead to accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 32 people are killed in the U.S. every day in accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver — that equates to one death about every 45 minutes.
Unfortunately, impaired drivers are common. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that more than 32.6 million drivers drive annually while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other illicit drugs — nearly 15% of all drivers.
It’s not just drugs and alcohol that impair drivers, either. Distracted drivers are becoming an increasing problem. More than 3,100 people die each year from drivers that are doing things like texting or talking on their phones. These actions impair a driver’s ability to pay attention to the road.
You can better protect yourself from other impaired drivers by following these safety tips.
Be Alert for Warning Signs of Impairment
While alcohol and drugs affect people to varying degrees, some common behaviors are often noticeable when someone is impaired. Warning signs can include drivers that are:
Swerving between lanes
Having trouble staying within lanes or veering into oncoming traffic
Driving with sudden stops and starts
Ignoring stop signs or traffic lights
Driving very fast or very slowly
If you encounter a driver showing any of these behaviors, be on guard.
Defensive Driving Techniques and Defensive Driving Classes
When you drive defensively, you’re constantly scanning for signs of potential danger. You’re also taking precautions to drive more safely. This can include:
Leaving more space between vehicles in front of you
Using turn signals properly
Being cautious when approaching intersections
Anticipating other drivers’ erratic behavior
It’s also important that you don’t engage in risky behavior, such as drinking and driving, allowing yourself to be distracted by your cell phone, or failing to put on your seat belt.
Defensive driving classes can help you better identify and anticipate problems like impaired drivers on the road. They can help you become a smarter driver and avoid accidents by being better aware of potential threats and dealing with them effectively.
Avoid Late Night Driving if Possible
While you can encounter impaired drivers at any time of day, you’re more likely to come across impaired drivers late at night when they’re heading home from bars or restaurants.
If you can avoid late-night driving, do so. If you do have to drive at night, be more alert — especially on weekends and holidays.
If someone is driving while impaired, they are a danger to you and other drivers on the road. If you suspect someone is driving erratically, pull over and call 911 to report it.
Provide as much information as possible to the dispatcher, including the location, make, model, and color of the vehicle. If you see their license plate or remember even a portion of the plate, it can also help identify the vehicle.
Make Sure You and Your Friend Are Not Impaired
Any time you're behind the wheel, make sure you’re not adding to the problem of impaired drivers on the road. Put away the cell phone and avoid alcohol or drugs.
If you’re with a group, choose a designated driver or schedule a taxi or ride-sharing service to get you home safely. If one of your friends is impaired, don’t let them get behind the wheel.
Drive Safely and Avoid Accidents
Impaired and intoxicated drivers are a serious danger for drivers everywhere. Following these tips can help safeguard you and keep you and your passengers safe.
If you’d like to learn more about defensive driving classes and how they can help protect you, contact I Drive Safely today.