Celebrating the holidays is all fun and games until someone gets behind the wheel intoxicated. Christmas and New Year’s are two of the most dangerous days of the year on the roadways due to drunk driving. In 2015, 10,265 people died in drunk driving crashes throughout the U.S. Even if drunk driving accidents don’t end in death, they can cause catastrophic and life-changing injuries. No one wants to spend the holidays in the hospital. Use these tips to drive safely around the holidays in Tampa Bay.
It can be too easy to find yourself at a holiday party sipping a complimentary drink you didn’t plan on having. If there is any chance you will be drinking on an occasion, plan ahead to get a ride with a designated driver or rideshare service. Choose someone in your group of friends who will not consume any alcohol. If you can’t rely on your designated friend to do so, plan on taking a taxi, Uber, or Lyft home. Buzzed driving is drunk driving – it’s not worth a DUI or a serious accident. Plan how you’re getting home ahead of time, and stick to your plan.
Avoid Driving at Certain Times
The greatest number of drunk drivers travels the road at night. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 30% of drivers involved in nighttime fatal accidents in 2016 were intoxicated, compared to just 9% during the day. Most people drink in the evenings and at night. Try to stay off the roads when there is a higher chance of drunk drivers getting behind the wheel.
The weekends and the days on and around holidays are also prime times for drunk drivers. Almost twice as many alcohol-related fatal accidents happen on the weekends compared to weekdays. Around the holidays, avoid driving past sundown to minimize your chances of encountering an intoxicated driver. If you have to drive at night, be on high alert for suspicious driving behaviors.
Learn the Signs of a Drunk Driver
As a driver, it is your responsibility not to drive after you’ve consumed alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, you can’t control the actions of other drivers during the holidays. Too many drivers imbibe and drive, putting the lives of everyone else on the road at risk. Watch for signs of drunk driving while you’re driving home from a holiday party, and stay far away from suspicious drivers. Red flags for an intoxicated driver include:
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Braking or accelerating erratically
- Running stop signs or stoplights
- Making illegal turns
- Driving off the sides of the road
- Driver looks impaired (drooping head, etc.)
As soon as you suspect you’re near a drunk driver, keep your distance and call the police. Report your suspicions, giving a description of the vehicle. Do not attempt to stop the driver on your own. Wait for police to arrive. Assume the drunk driver will break roadway rules and pose a threat to you. Keep a safe following distance at all times. If you do get into an accident with a drunk driver around the holidays, retain an attorney as soon as possible.