Drunk driving isn't just a legal issue. It isn't about arrest totals, fines or jail time.
It's a life issue. Some reports show that a life is lost to a drunk driver every 48 minutes, on average. If you stay home and watch one episode of your favorite show on Netflix, someone likely died while you were watching. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also claim that about 33 percent of total car accidents stem from impaired drivers.
So, does that drive home after dinner seem a little more daunting? Even if you're stone sober, the risk is there every time you get on the road. Below are a few tips that can help protect yourself.
1. Use a longer following distance than feels natural.
Give yourself some extra space so that, when the driver ahead of you makes a mistake, you're not caught up in a secondary accident. Most people don't leave long enough following distances anyway, and it pays to err on the side of caution.
2. Keep your seat belt on.
Countless studies have shown that you're more likely to survive an accident if your seat belt is on. It doesn't matter how far you're going. It doesn't matter what car you drive. Just keep it on so that someone else's mistake doesn't cost you your life.
3. Stay home after dark.
Studies have also found that most drunk driving crashes, and a higher percentage of fatal crashes, happen at night. There is simply more danger if it's dark out. The odds are higher that people have been drinking. This risk goes up on the weekends. If you can, save your driving for the relatively safe weekday hours and stay off the roads when you know the danger is highest.
4. Understand the most dangerous places on the road.
Be extra wary at places where drunk drivers may make a mistake. For instance, if you're coming up to a four-way stop, be careful. Check twice to ensure that all other drivers are stopping. Never assume they'll stop just because they should, as a drunk driver may never see the sign.
5. Help out as a designated driver.
You can proactively help the situation by ensuring that fewer drunk drivers are on the road. If your friends need a designated driver, be that person. Volunteer to help out. A van full of people means four or five potential drunk drivers are riding home safely. If everyone did that, accidents would plummet.
Naturally, even these tips can't always protect you from an accident. For instance, helping out as a designated driver could also mean you're on the road during the highest risk hours of the day. If you're hit and injured, you must know your rights.