A significant number of people find a lot of their holiday cheer and New Year’s spirit in the bottom of a bottle. While it’s common to indulge a little during the winter festivities, some people take it too far and end up behind the wheel of their cars after they’ve had a few too many drinks.
In fact, if you’re on the road after midnight on New Year’s Day, you stand a 117% higher-than-average risk of ending up in a fatal wreck with a drunk driver; it’s the number one deadliest day of the year for those kinds of accidents. So what can you do to stay safe out there on the roads, short of staying locked in your home until the holiday season is over?
Wear your seatbelt
There’s only so much you can do to actually avoid drunk drivers, so make sure that your seatbelt – and the seatbelts of everybody in your car – are firmly in place before you take the car out of park.
Give other drivers extra room
Is the driver in front of you swerving because they’re tired, distracted or drunk? Does it matter? It’s best to be on the defensive from the start of your journey. If you spot a vehicle that’s swerving across the center line, speeding up and slowing down erratically or otherwise behaving strangely, pull back and let the driver get far ahead of you.
Be especially leery of intersections
Drunk drivers may not observe traffic signals or stop signs at intersections, and that puts you in danger of being t-boned. Take your time moving into an intersection when the light turns, and make sure that you look both ways.
If possible, avoid driving at all between the hours of midnight and three in the morning. That’s when most bars and clubs empty out, so that’s also when the most drunk drivers are on the road. (Fatal wrecks are also four times higher at night).
Unfortunately, even your best efforts may not be successful. If you do get into a wreck with a drunk driver, the state will handle any criminal charges that should be filed – but you may need legal help to pursue a civil claim.