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Why Drunk Driving is So Risky and What to Do if You Suspect a Driver is Inebriated

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Thousands of people get behind the wheel every day after having drinks and get home without incident. But that doesn’t make driving while drunk any less dangerous.

In the United States, getting behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent is illegal.

People react to alcohol differently; sometimes, a person can be significantly impaired even with a BAC of less than 0.08. So, it is not a question of the legal limit but the level of intoxication.

Drunk Driving and Holidays

According to statistics, 30 percent of all vehicle fatalities in 2020 involved a driver with a BAC of 0.08b or above. Since 2011 drunk driving has been responsible for over 10,500 deaths every year.

While it is possible to encounter a drunk driver any day, the risk is higher on weekends and holidays. Surprisingly the chances of encountering drunk drivers vary widely depending on the holiday.

If you plan to travel on any holiday, this 30 Holiday Drunk Driving Statistics guide can give you a good view of when to exercise extra caution on the road.

Why Drunk Driving Is So Risky

Impaired judgment is one of the effects of driving under the influence. According to the NHTSA, alcohol impairment begins when a person has as low as 0.02 blood alcohol content.

An impaired driver lacks the ability to perform routine driving maneuvers or even act quickly and decisively to avoid an accident.

Other effects of alcohol that make drunk driving dangerous include:

  • Compromised decision making
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slow reaction time
  • Compromised vision
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Poor information processing

What to Do When You Encounter a Drunk Driver

You cannot control what other drivers do. The best you can do is exercise extra caution when you suspect a driver could be drunk. Some signs of intoxication include swaying, abrupt braking and acceleration, moving too slowly or too fast, etc.

If you see any signs of intoxication, here are a few things you can do:

1.   Stay at Least for Car Lengths From the Driver

Intoxicated drivers tend to be erratic in their driving, so you will want to ensure you leave enough space between you and them. That way, you will have enough reaction time in case they brake abruptly, change lanes without signaling, or make some wrong moves.

2.   Wear Your Seat Belt

It’s always good to wear a seatbelt when on the road. But when driving near a suspect drunk driver, the need to wear your belt goes much higher. You never know when you could get hit, especially if they are behind you.

3.   Don’t Engage Them

Intoxication and being unreasonable do go hand in hand. Therefore, even when you feel angry, do not engage them verbally or in any other way because you may escalate the situation, which may result in aggressive driving.

4.   Pullover Report the Driver

If it is safe to get away from them and pull over safely, do it and report the drunk driver to the police. Doing so will not only save your life, but it could also save the lives of other road users and the drunk driver themself.

5.   Overtake Cautiously

If you are driving behind a driver who seems intoxicated or drug impaired, the best idea would be to avoid overtaking them because you may not be sure what their reaction could be. However, if they are too slow, you may want to overtake them from the farthest lane and watch out for erratic responses.

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