The upcoming 4th of July holiday causes many Americans to get together to celebrate. Unfortunately, some take the celebration too far, by abusing alcohol or other drugs, like opioids. These drugs impair a driver’s thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination-all critically important to safely driving a car.
We all know that the results of this behavior are often devastating. Here’s but one statistic to prove it: in 2015, there were 10,265 deaths from alcohol-impaired drivers, alone. And these statistics say nothing of the human toll that each death inflicts on the families of the victims, and even on the life of the impaired driver and his/her family.
Sadly, some estimates calculate that as many as one in every ten drivers are impaired; the percentage is greater on holidays.
We can defend ourselves against this. First, we must be on the lookout this long holiday weekend for the signs that a driver sharing the road with us may be impaired. Below are links to lists of those signs compiled by organizations who know: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, an insurance company and a government agency. They mostly include:
- Erratic driving
- Near misses…of other cars, curbs, etc.
- Driving much slower or faster than posted speeds
- Failing to observe lane boundaries
- Slow responses to developments on the road
- Headlights off at night
- Wide, abrupt, unsure turns
If you witness this kind of behavior this holiday weekend-or ever-you should call 911. Be prepared to give the operator the make, model and color of the car with the potentially impaired driver, as well as its location and the direction in which it is headed, as best as you can determine.
Some are concerned that they may be wrong, and that their 911 call may cause the police to stop and examine a completely innocent driver. While that is true, of course, wouldn’t we rather regret the momentary inconvenience we caused to a driver who turned out to not be impaired, than the potentially life-long regret we would feel by failing to make the call about an actually impaired driver who later injured others and himself?