For many people, the winter holidays bring an infectious joy that comes from extra time spent with loved ones and a season dedicated to merry-making and thankfulness. It truly can be the most wonderful time of the year.
Be careful not to let those joyous feelings make you less wary and aware of your surroundings though. Bad things still happen over the holiday season. People steal gifts and break into houses. Poorly attended meals can cause food poisoning. Drunk individuals make the bad decision to get behind the wheel of their car and head out on the same roads that you use.
You wouldn’t turn off your house alarm or eat turkey that had been sitting out overnight. So why wouldn’t you take the same kinds of precautions against drunk drivers?
Of course you would.
How? By following the below tips on spotting drivers who may have been drinking and staying as far away from them as possible so you can avoid an accident.
Trouble staying in the lane
If someone has been drinking, it can be difficult to drive in a straight line or stay in a single lane. You might notice a car weaving back and forth between lanes or straddling the hash marks dividing lanes in an effort to maintain control of the vehicle. Either behavior is a sign that you should keep your distance.
Hitting the curb or almost hitting other objects
For the same reason mentioned above, you might witness a drunk driver repeatedly scrape up against a curb or come close to hitting something before correcting their course at the last second.
Going way too fast
Most of us speed a bit from time to time, but speeding dangerously can be a sign that the driver doesn’t really have a clear sense of their surroundings. This is something that happens fairly often with drivers who have been drinking but don’t “feel” like they’re impaired. Unfortunately, their sense of control can cause them to take chances they otherwise wouldn’t, such as excessive speeding, which can lead to car accidents.
Slow and steady
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some drivers overcompensate after drinking by taking it slow and being incredibly careful behind the wheel. At least they think they’re being careful. They might, for example, get in the fast lane but drive slowly. Or stop way too early for a stop sign or light.
Sudden changes in speed, including stopping entirely
Because alcohol slows down decision making and motor skills, it’s not uncommon for drunk drivers to change speeds suddenly or even come to a complete stop seemingly at random as they realize they missed a turn or discover they’re travelling at 30 over – or under – the speed limit.
Related to this, drivers who have been drinking may overshoot stop signs and stop lights and end up stopping in the middle of an intersection, actually causing more danger.
No signals, or confusing signals
Have you ever been behind someone whose turn signals flash for a few seconds, then go off again? Of course. We all have. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time.
Drinking, however, can cause someone to continue making these types of mistakes, leading to confusion and frustration for the people behind them. Worse than that, though, is the potential danger this type of behavior causes, because other drivers make decisions based on the cues they get from these signals. If those signals are based on mistakes, it can easily lead to disaster.
Using High Beams – Or No Beams
Thankfully, many modern vehicles can be set so headlights turn on automatically, decreasing – though not eliminating – the danger that a drunk driver might simply forget to turn on their lights at night and cause an accident.
This feature, however, does nothing to stop them from using their high beams. In fact, they might think they’re doing something smart by turning them on because it increases their visibility. However, it does the exact opposite for other drivers and can lead to accidents.
When police cite people for tailgating, they often say that they can smell alcohol on those drivers, and they frequently end up charging them with DUIs.
Why are intoxicated drivers seemingly more likely to follow closely? Perhaps it’s a sense of driving “correctly” if they’re doing what the driver in front of them is doing. Maybe their sense of special distance is impaired and they don’t realize how close they are?
Whatever the reason, it’s something to watch for.
Taking too-wide turns
Have you ever watched HBO’s The Wire? There’s a hilarious and heartbreaking scene where the main character is driving drunk and completely misjudges a corner, smashing his headlight. Dumbfounded, he steps out onto the deserted street, does some mental calculations about the angle of the turn, reverses, and tries to turn again.
The results are even worse the second time around. See for yourself.
The point? Intoxicated people have a hard time judging maneuvers like turns. If you notice someone taking really wide turns, stay back.
If a Drunk Driver Hits You, Hold Them Accountable
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, an accident still occurs. If you find yourself injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver this holiday, remember that you can fight back. By filing an injury lawsuit against them, you not only send a signal that you will hold them responsible for their actions, but also provide yourself and your family with the opportunity to receive compensation for what you have had to endure.
Don’t try to do it alone though. Even if it seems like an open-and-shut case, working with a knowledgeable Fort Worth injury attorney will help you ensure you put forth the best possible argument to get fair and just compensation. Get in touch now.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.