New Year's is a festive time to celebrate with family and friends and to toast the future. However, these family gatherings, parties and year-end football game get-togethers mean that more drivers are taking to the nation’s roadways while under the influence of alcohol and/or other substances.
As a professional driver, you are aware that any amount of alcohol or drugs in the bloodstream can impact driving ability. Yet, other holiday revelers may not recognize that critical driving-related skills and decision-making abilities are diminished long before they show physical signs of intoxication.
While you can’t control the actions of others, there are things you can do to help protect yourself from impaired drivers:
Be on the lookout for impaired drivers. Keep an eye out for vehicles that zigzag across lanes; straddle the center line; make wide turns; or swerve dangerously close to the curb, other vehicles or objects. Watch for those driving with headlights off at night, driving 10 mph or more below the speed limit, or following too closely. Be wary of other erratic behaviors such as rapid braking and accelerating, delayed responses to traffic signals, or signals that are inconsistent with the driver’s actions. These are all signs that the driver may be impaired.
Give impaired drivers extra space. If you suspect that a driver is impaired, stay clear of their vehicle, pull over to a safe and legal spot, and call 911 to report the location and description of the vehicle.
Keep your guard up day and night. Most impaired driving accidents occur in the late night or early morning hours, but around the holidays, that’s not necessarily the case. With an abundance of get-togethers this time of year, celebrations may, in fact, start earlier in the day. Stay alert, slow down and add space to react to traffic around you.
Wear your seat belt. If you are involved in an accident with an impaired driver, wearing your seat belt will help you maintain vehicle control and prevent you from being ejected.
Ride the right side. You can reduce the risk of being sideswiped or hit head-on by an impaired driver by driving slightly in the right side of your lane as oncoming vehicles approach.
Be extra cautious at intersections. When approaching an intersection, slow down and keep your eyes moving ahead, left, right and left again. Also, watch out for pedestrians who may be impaired or distracted by holiday festivities.
Pay attention to your own condition. Holiday events can be fun, but never mix alcohol or drugs and driving, period. Be aware of disrupted sleep patterns over the holidays too, and drive only when you’re mentally alert and physically rested.
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