Driving in New Mexico nowadays is obviously quite different from how it was several decades ago. When you're behind the wheel, you face many increased risks that drivers long ago rarely experienced. Reasons for this vary, including higher posted speed limits, far more traffic, the almost continual presence of tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles on the road, and last but not least: more drunk drivers.
While any of the above factors places you at risk for catastrophic injuries while driving, the latter definitely ranks high on any given list of driving dangers. Drunk drivers place themselves and all who share the roadways in direct harm's way. Unless you're well aware of potential signs of intoxicated driving and know just what to do if your vehicle crosses paths with one, it may be nearly impossible to avoid a collision.
Take action to save lives
Let's say you're driving your son or daughter to dance lessons or a school-related event and a driver in your vicinity gives you cause for concern due to erratic vehicle maneuvers. Remember the following if you believe the driver might be operating his or her vehicle under the influence of alcohol:
- It's often best to try to position your own vehicle far away from a possible drunk driver. If changing lanes or dropping back in traffic causes additional risk at the time, you must carefully analyze the situation and determine how best to safely get away from the vehicle causing your concern.
- Drivers should never attempt direct personal contact with possibly intoxicated motorists. This includes waving a driver to pull off the road or rolling down a window to speak to him or her at a stop light.
- If possible, it can be very helpful to copy down the license number of a vehicle you believe has a drunk driver behind the wheel. If you can do so safely, it's also a good idea to document the color, model and manufacturer of the car in question.
- Pay attention to names of roads and routes in the area in order to remember the exact location of a possible drunk driver.
- When able to do so safely, pull off the road, call 911, and report the incident, providing authorities with all pertinent information you gathered.
Before you can report a drunk driver, however, you must first know how to spot one on the road. People operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol tend to exhibit certain common behaviors behind the wheel.
Watch out for signs of drunk driving
Like most New Mexico parents, your goal is to help your children reach their destinations as safely as possible. Knowing how to spot a drunk driver is a valuable skill to help reduce the chances of a serious car accident. It's also good to remember as many details as possible if a collision occurs. Always be alert for these driving dangers:
- Drivers who apply their brakes or stop for no apparent reason may be drunk.
- Tailgaters are always a nuisance, but following too closely to a car in front is also often a sign of drunk driving.
- Many intoxicated motorists veer across the centerline of traffic.
- Others repeatedly drift from side to side within their lanes.
- If you see a vehicle bumping into the curb or nearly scraping stationary objects or parked cars, it's often a clear sign a drunk driver is in your midst.
Even if you report a potential drunk driving incident, authorities may not respond in time before a collision occurs. If a drunk driver hits you, and you or your child suffers severe injuries, you have every right to pursue justice by filing a personal injury claim in a civil court. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process.