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Driving under the influence of alcohol is among the top causes of road fatalities. According to research by the center for disease control, a person dies every forty-eight minutes in a drunkenness-related accident, which is alarming.

It’s not easy to tell that another driver is drunk, and the best you can do is look for ways to protect yourself from them. Stick on as we check how to protect yourself from drunk drivers.

Common Signs of Drunk Driving

how to know a drunk driver


1. Excessive Braking

Some drunk drivers will overcompensate by excess braking or driving too slowly, where they inconvenience other drivers by not observing the speed limits. When on the road, drivers tend to lose concentration, and most situations find them unaware. Slow driving is a hazard to other drivers as it may force other drivers to slow down.

2. Swerving

It’s the most common action you can notice in drunk drivers, and police officers always look out for it when on patrol. The drivers find it hard to concentrate and keep a straight line and are uneasy with focusing on the road ahead or noticing the lane markers.

3. Persistent Tailgating

Using alcohol impairs sight, and drunk drivers will have weak eye muscle function and won’t see the lane dividers clearly or check what’s in front of them, leaving an option of constantly following the car in front even when there is an empty lane.

The situation becomes dangerous since the slow reflexes mean that the drunk driver won’t have a quick response when there’s an emergency.

4. Hugging the Center Lane

Some drunk drivers will hug the center lane to escape swerving, which is easily noticeable by traffic officers and other drivers. Even if it’s safer than swerving, it can lead to impaired judgment and other road fatalities, especially on a busy road.

5. Breaking Laws

With low concentration, drunk drivers fall on the wrong side of the law, like following road signs and some run through a red light. They will also practice improper signaling or keep low speed limits. Check out for such drivers since they may lead you to break the laws.

Defensive Driving Tips to Protect Yourself and Others From Drunk Drivers

1. Keep a Reasonable Following Distance

When on the road, you can’t tell what the driver in front is up to and whether they are drunk, and it’s always safe to maintain the right following distance to allow reaction space in an emergency. If you notice one of the above signs of a drunk driver, add your following distance, and if there’s a clear lane, please leave for your safety.

The distance gives you a clear view to notice some erratic behaviors, and if the situation worsens, you turn off the cruise control or even park your car.

2. Buckle Up


Buckling up helps in your safety when driving. It reduces injury risk by 50 percent, and in 2020, it saved over 14000 lives. To remember to buckle up, you must build the habit of ensuring you put on your belt before starting your car.

The belt will restrain you when you make abrupt braking after encountering a drunk driver. If you have passengers in the car, ensure they buckle up for a safe ride. Teens mostly forget to buckle up, and you should remind them until they get used to it.

3. Approach Intersections Cautiously

Research shows that most drunk drivers are likely to cause accidents at intersections since they don’t obey road signals and ignore stop signs. As a sober driver, ensure you aren’t in a rush as you approach an intersection, and remember to come to a complete stop as you wait for a clear way.

Look both ways before you drive through the intersection and yield to any oncoming traffic. As a new driver, always remind yourself what to do at crossroads for a safe maneuver.

4. Be the Designated Driver


Another defensive approach to protecting yourself and others from drunk drivers is becoming the designated driver to take your friends or family home, especially if you know they are likely to get beyond driving alcohol levels.

Remind your friends and family to stay responsible for safe driving as you volunteer to take them home, plus remember your seatbelt.

What To Avoid to Protect Yourself From Drunk Drivers

1. Late-Night Driving

how to avoid drunk drivers


Most drivers indulge in alcohol consumption late at night and especially during weekends. Most driving under the influence-related accidents happens at night between 10 pm and 5 am and rises on weekends.

Late driving is dangerous during holidays like summer and new year’s eve when some drivers drink. If you aren’t attending to an important issue, get home on time.

2. Aggression

how to avoid getting hit by a drunk driver


The worst you could do is react aggressively to a drunk driver since it will bring other road rage issues. Be calm if you notice someone is inconveniencing your driving, move to a clear lane or keep your distance.

If someone decides to take out their rage on you, let it go for your safety, and don’t think of getting out of the car. Road rage confrontations have led to injuries and deaths, especially with easy access to guns.

3. Distractions

Imagine looking at your phone and not paying attention to the road, and there is a drunk driver ahead of you. The situation will worsen if they decide to tailgate or brake when you aren’t concentrating. Using the phone is a common cause of road fatalities in the US, and you 

shouldn’t be part of the statistics. 

4. Depending on Other Drivers

You must be attentive on the road without assuming that the other driver is seeing you. Please don’t assume that the other driver will allow you to merge or get off your way; they might be drunk, contributing to poor decision-making.

Wrap Up

Even when you are the most careful driver, we all agree that you can meet drunk drivers at some point, and that’s where your defensive driving skills will apply to protect yourself and others from related fatalities. 

Drunk drivers make poor road judgments and may lead you to trouble. Avoid getting into a confrontation with them. At Pierre Paul driving school, we teach defensive driving school for a safe ride on the road full of unpredictable drivers.