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Spotting a drunk driver through visual cues

Spotting a drunk driver through visual cues

Had citizens consciously made efforts to provide information to the police about drunk drivers based on their own observation, it would have lessen the burden of the police officers by providing them an extra pair of eyes. In the United States, alcohol-related crashes accounted for 22 percent of all crash costs and inflicted total economic costs to the tune of $52 billion in 2010 alone. The 84 percent ($44 billion) of the above-mentioned total cost was attributed to the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 and higher. Besides the increased economic burden, such accidents cause untold suffering and pain experienced by the victims and their families.

Despite the existence of stringent laws in the country regarding drunk driving, reports related to injuries and accidents led by impaired driving still hit the headlines daily. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 28 people die in motor vehicle crashes occurring due to an alcohol-impaired driver on a daily basis in the U.S. This works out to a death occurring every 51 minutes.

In 2015, 10,265 people died in such accidents caused due to alcohol-impaired driving. The distressing part of these casualties is that 16 percent of the deaths of innocent children below 14 years occurred due to an alcohol-impaired driver.

The law enforcement agencies have been able to arrest nearly 1.1 million drivers in 2015 for ‘driving under the influence’ (DUI) of alcohol or narcotics. Unfortunately, the alarming fact is that this is only the tip of the iceberg, as it represents only 1 percent of the self-reported episodes of DUIs among the American adults each year.

How to detect a drunk driver?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified and compiled over 100 visual cues to enable officers and the public to spot the potentially dangerous drivers who could be driving while intoxicated. The list was reduced to 24 cues with the help of police officers who had flagged down over 12,000 or more drivers for DUI and driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Since the current legal BAC limit for driving is 0.08 percent, these visual cues listed by the NHTSA help police officers to predict with a high probability the BAC limit of a driver through visual observation alone.

These are the signs that police officers refer to when pulling over vehicles on the suspicion of drunk driving. Other drivers and bystanders can also refer to these signs to spot and report intoxicated drivers. Some of these cues are as follows:

  • Abruptly speeding up or slowing down.
  • Driving very slowly at 10 mph or below, and failing to maintain a consistent speed.
  • Braking in the middle of the road and stopping for no apparent reason.
  • Driving in and out of different lanes.
  • Peering through the windshield to focus on the road by placing face too near to the windshield.
  • Tailgating vehicles in front at too close a distance.
  • Car signals not matching the directions being taken.
  • Difficulty in responding to traffic lights and signals.
  • Not switching on headlights even if it is dark outside.
  • Taking swigs of alcohol from a can or bottle while driving
  • Drifting toward one side of the road or driving out of the designated road.
  • The driver’s head droops or falls to one side.

Once a driver has been flagged down or stopped by a police officer based on the above warning signs, the further indications of intoxication are:

  • Slurred speech of the driver.
  • Slow responses to questioning or unsatisfactory answers to questions.
  • Presence of open alcohol containers and odor of alcohol.
  • Poor motor skills of the driver reflected in the fumbling with documents, difficulty in getting out of the vehicle and leaning for support

Report drunk drivers to avoid road accidents

It is advisable for bystanders and other motorists  to maintain a safe distance from drunk drivers instead of trying to approach them or signaling them to stop. They are recommended to take note of the make and model of the vehicle and its license plate, pull over to the side and call 911 to report the incident.

Not only for driving, substance abuse is anyways harmful for every individual. If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse and addiction, contact the Colorado Detox Helpline to access the detoxification treatment centers in Colorado. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-730-5807 to get more details about the detox centers in Colorado. Alternatively, you can chat online with our experts for further information.

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