If you’re already dealing with the aftermath of a crash caused by an impaired driver, you may feel like they’re everywhere on the roads. Indeed, too many drivers are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Often, the drugs aren’t illegal. Many prescription and even over-the-counter medications can affect a person’s perception and their ability to remain alert behind the wheel.
Common signs that a driver is impaired
While you can’t guarantee that you won’t encounter an impaired driver, you can learn to spot the signs that a driver is under the influence. This can help you stay clear of them and alert authorities so that there’s less of a chance that they’ll injure someone (or themselves).
Here are some signs that a driver may be under the influence:
- Weaving or zig-zagging across lanes
- Stopping for no reason or too far ahead of a stoplight or sign
- Not reacting when a light turns green
- Signaling incorrectly or when there’s no reason to
- Almost hitting other vehicles or objects (including curbs)
- Driving off the road
- Not having headlights on when they’re needed
- Driving too slowly or changing their speed for no reason
- Making sudden, last-second turns
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
That last one is often a clear sign that the person behind the wheel is impaired. Sadly, crashes involving wrong-way drivers are often fatal.
What you should – and shouldn’t – do
If you see a driver doing one or more of these things, it’s wise to stay as far away from them as possible. Don’t try to get their attention, as you don’t know what their emotional state may be.
When it’s safe, pull over and call 911 with as much information as you have about the driver, vehicle, location and direction. Even if the driver isn’t under the influence, they clearly aren’t driving safely – perhaps because they’re distracted, falling asleep or lost.
If you are involved in a crash caused by a driver who’s under the influence, remember that they can be subject to civil legal action in addition to any criminal penalties they’re facing. It may be wise to seek legal advice to find out what your options are for getting the compensation you need to deal with expenses and damages.