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How To Avoid Drunk Drivers

open bottle of wine laying on the seat of someone's car

Did you know that a person is killed in a drunk driving accident every 6 hours in New Mexico?

We recommend that everyone learns how to avoid drunk drivers on the roads of Albuquerque. Keep reading to discover our top 7 tips for avoiding motorists driving under the influence.

1.     Avoid Driving Late at Night

Most drunk driving crashes happen at night.

National Safety Council (NSC) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that over 67% of fatal alcohol-involved collisions happen in the dark, and often between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. Crashes that occur during the midnight hours are more likely to involve alcohol, especially when fatal.

While we know it’s not always possible to avoid nighttime driving, try to minimize your hours behind the wheel after dark. This is particularly important on weekends and holidays.

Also, be selective about where you drive, staying clear of downtown areas with high concentrations of bars and nightlife. Even if an intoxicated person isn’t behind the wheel, drunk pedestrian accidents are also a danger to watch out for.

And although DUI accident rates are typically higher on urban streets than on interstates and rural roads, keep in mind that drunk drivers may be anywhere.

2.     Know the Major Drinking Holidays

Unfortunately, a holiday celebration with friends and family can quickly turn into tragedy. In the United States, traffic fatalities spike on what are considered to be the major drinking and driving holidays:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • Independence Day (July 4th)
  • Patrick’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Labor Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Christmas Eve
  • Thanksgiving

3.     Watch Out for Signs of Intoxicated Driving

Someone operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs will usually give some indication of their impairment. Watch out for the signs of a drunk driver, which often include:

  • Swerving
  • Weaving back and forth between lanes
  • Rapidly speeding up and slowing down
  • Driving under the speed limit
  • Driving on shoulders or medians
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Braking erratically
  • Driving without lights (at night)
  • Tailgating
  • Zigzagging
  • Almost hitting objects like curbs, streetlights, or other cars

4.     Maintain a Safe Distance

Keeping a safe distance between your own vehicle and others is important at all times. It is especially critical if you think another motorist might be impaired.

The “3-Second Rule” is a good way to measure safe driving distance. This means maintaining at least three seconds of driving time between the rear bumper of the car in front of you and the nose of your own vehicle. You can use a marker like a tree or road sign to count the seconds between your vehicles.

You should keep more than three seconds between cars if weather or visibility conditions require. If you notice another driver acting erratically, increase your following distance. Call 911 if you think they may be a risk to themselves or others.

5.     Drive Carefully at Intersections

Intersections require drivers to pay attention, make decisions, and give right of way when needed. These are usually tasks that drunk drivers execute poorly.

For an impaired driver, keeping a vehicle going straight down the roadway is typically easier than navigating an intersection with other vehicles (and sometimes pedestrians and bicyclists).

As a sober driver, pay close attention and be aware of the actions of all other motorists when traveling through an intersection. Don’t assume that a driver will give you the right away when they should. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and let someone else who’s not slowing down go first, even if it’s your turn.

Additionally, traffic signals often change during night hours, the time when drunk driving is most prevalent. The typical green-yellow-red configuration may switch to a flashing red or yellow light.

Remember—a flashing red light should be treated like a stop sign. A flashing yellow light means slow down and proceed with caution. But an impaired driver can easily blow through a flashing red light without stopping. Be aware of these rules, but also know that a drunk driver may break them.

6.     Don’t Drive Distracted

No matter what anyone else does behind their wheel, it’s always your responsibility to be a safe driver.

Many drunk driving accidents can be avoided by paying attention and taking evasive action. Don’t use a cell phone while operating a vehicle—or allow any other distraction to stand in the way of you and a safe arrival at your destination.

7.     Always Buckle Up

According to the NHTSA, seat belts saved about 14,955 lives in 2017 alone. An additional 2,549 people could have been saved if they had been buckled at the time of the crash.

The NHTSA states that:

Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.

You can’t always stop an impaired driver from crashing into you, even when you take all the safety measures you possibly can. Wearing a safety belt is the strongest defense you have against severe injury or fatality in the event of a collision.

New Mexico Drunk Driving Statistics

Our state ranked 9th in the nation on the 2022 list of Most Dangerous States for Drunk Driving. In previous years, we’ve ranked as high as 5th and 6th out of 50 states and Washington, D.C.

New Mexico, we can do better.

According to the New Mexico Traffic Crash Annual Report from 2021:

  • An alcohol-involved crash occurred every 4 hours.
  • A person was killed or injured in a drunk driving crash every 6 hours.
  • 37% of all traffic deaths involved alcohol.
  • There were 2,150 crashes involving alcohol—more than 5% higher than pre-COVID rates.
  • The number of fatalities in alcohol-involved crashes was the highest it’s been in a decade.
  • Male drivers and drivers aged 20 to 29 were involved in the most drunk driving crashes.
  • 178 people died in drunk driving accidents.

Every single one of these 178 lives could have been saved. Drunk driving is never an accident—it’s a choice.

Injured by a Drunk Driver? Call Buckingham & Vega Law Firm

If you were injured, if a loved one lost their life, if you’re facing the devastating repercussions of someone else’s bad decision—you have rights.

The law is on your side.

Drunk driving is a crime. And when you’ve been hurt because someone else broke the law and operated a vehicle while intoxicated, you may be owed significant compensation for your losses.

Contact the Buckingham & Vega Law Firm drunk driving accident lawyers in Albuquerque today. We’ll schedule you for a free consultation with a real attorney who can answer your questions.

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