Drunk driving is a significant problem in Pennsylvania and around the country. Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation states that in 2021, 311 people lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes. You may be able to protect yourself from drunk drivers by learning how to recognize driver impairment and knowing what to do if you encounter an intoxicated driver on the road.
Avoid Driving at High-Risk Dates and Times
Knowing a few facts about drunk driving accidents in Pennsylvania can help you spot dangerous drivers. If you can, avoid driving at high-risk times. For example, 71 percent of alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania in 2021 occurred at night, typically on the weekends. Avoid driving late at night as much as possible. Our team of Pittsburgh car accident lawyers emphasize that the holidays are also dangerous times for drunk driving – especially Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Be on high alert for drunk drivers if you have to be on the roads during these dangerous times.
Learn How to Spot Signs of a Drunk Driver
Avoiding a collision with an intoxicated driver starts with knowing how to spot one. The sooner you recognize that a driver is potentially impaired, the sooner you can take steps to get to a place of safety. Drunk drivers often make bad decisions behind the wheel and have reduced reaction times. This can lead to telltale signs of intoxication, such as:
- Weaving in and out of a lane
- Zigzagging across lanes
- Drifting across the centerline
- Driving the wrong way
- Erratic braking or acceleration
- Making exaggerated turns
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Remaining in place when a light turns green
- Driving excessively slowly
- Mixing up right and left turn signals
- Hitting curbs or fixed objects
- Driving without headlights
Any broken traffic law or strange driving behaviors could point to an intoxicated driver. If you see a driver cause a car accident, hit a pedestrian or strike a fixed object and keep driving, this is also a sign of intoxication. This is the crime of hit-and-run accident and should be reported to the police immediately. Remain at the scene to lend your help as a witness, if you can.
Keep Your Distance From Unsafe Drivers
If you see a driver who is breaking traffic laws or driving erratically, immediately steer clear. Our experienced Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys recommend keeping distance between yourself and any unsafe driver. Stay as far away as possible and do not under any circumstances try to follow, stop or confront the driver. Make note of the make, model and color of the vehicle, as well as the license plate numbers (if you can get them safely). You can use this identifying information to report the driver to the police.
Report the Drunk Driver to Law Enforcement
Reporting potential drunk drivers can save lives. Pull over in a safe location to call 911 and report the drunk driver to law enforcement. Give the police all of the information that you have about the driver and motor vehicle, including where you saw the driver and which direction he or she was traveling. Providing any identifying information about the driver and vehicle can also help the police.
Stay Vigilant While Driving
Always pay attention to the road while driving. Do not look at your cell phone or text and drive. Stay vigilant and constantly scan the road ahead for hazards and changing roadway situations, such as drunk or reckless drivers. Be especially careful at intersections, as drunk drivers are likely to run red lights. Buckle up – wearing your seat belt could protect you from a serious or fatal injury if you get into a drunk driving accident.
If you get into a drunk driving accident despite your best efforts to protect yourself, contact a Pittsburgh drunk driving accident attorney for assistance with the claims process. A lawyer can help you gather evidence of driver intoxication, such as a copy of the police report or blood alcohol content test, and pursue maximum financial compensation for your medical bills and property damage.