Spotting and avoiding drunk drivers on Tennessee and Kentucky roads

Knowing how to identify other drivers who may be intoxicated, and understanding how to respond when they do, may help people avoid drunk driving accidents.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security reports there were 6,094 alcohol-related collisions across the state in 2017. Across the state line in Kentucky, there were 4,269 alcohol-related crashes in 2015, according to the Kentucky State Police.

Often, drunk driving crashes result in serious injuries or death for the intoxicated motorists themselves, as well as for their passengers or the occupants of the other vehicles involved. People can take vital steps toward avoiding such accidents by refraining from getting behind the wheel after they have consumed alcoholic beverages, but there is no way to guarantee that others have done the same. Therefore, it may be helpful for people to know how to spot potentially drunk drivers on the road, and how to respond if they do.

How does alcohol consumption affect drivers?

Upon being consumed and entering the bloodstream, alcohol may cause a range of effects on the human body. Ranging from relaxation, to loss of judgment, to reduced muscle control, these effects may cause significant impairment for drivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that as a result of drinking alcoholic beverages, motorists may experience decreased visual function, a decline in their ability to brake properly and maintain the appropriate land position, reduced ability to focus on the task of driving, and a decline in their reaction times and coordination, among other effects. Consequently, their ability to control their vehicles and respond to situations on the road may be affected, which may increase their risk of being involved in motor vehicle collisions.

What are the signs a driver is intoxicated?

Spotting drivers that may be under the influence can be an essential step for motorists in avoiding drunk driving accidents. Beyond hitting or almost hitting other vehicles or objects on the road, some of the most common indicators that a driver may be intoxicated include the following:

  • Swerving or weaving across the lanes of traffic
  • Driving well under or well over the posted speed limit
  • Making abrupt, illegal or wide turns
  • Driving in areas not designated for vehicles
  • Crossing over into oncoming traffic

Furthermore, exhibiting delayed responses to road signs or traffic signals may also be signs that a motorist is under the influence. In some cases, drunk drivers may neglect to use their signals or use them in a way that is not consistent with their actions. As such, seeing a vehicle that is signaling erratically or not signaling may be an indication that its operator is intoxicated.

How should motorists respond if they spot a potentially drunk driver?

While it is helpful to identify potentially intoxicated motorists on the road, simply spotting them does not protect people from drunk driving accidents. Should drivers see another motorist they believe is under the influence, they are advised to stay well behind the vehicle. It is not recommended that people attempt to pass the car or stop it themselves. Once they have ensured their own safety and distance from the potential drunk driver, it is suggested that people call the local law enforcement to report their suspicions.

Working with an attorney

When people are involved in drunk driving accidents in Tennessee or Kentucky, they may suffer serious injuries, which require significant medical treatment. For many, mounting medical bills, lost wages and other resulting losses, complicate their recoveries. In some situations, however, the drunk drivers may be held financially responsible. Therefore, those who have suffered injuries in alcohol-related collisions may find it of benefit to discuss their rights and options for pursuing compensation with a legal representative.