As an auto accident lawyer Memphis TN trusts, I know that the problem of impaired driving in our country is bigger than the holiday season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 people in the United States die each day, or every 50 minutes, in accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Still, there are even more lives lost from drunk driving accidents during the holidays.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that we have lost an average of 300 people to drunk driving crashes during the week between Christmas and New Year’s for the past five years. Those statistics look even worse on New Year’s specifically. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 12-hour window on December 31st and January 1st sees roughly 71% more crashes involving alcohol and drugs compared to the average weekend night.

I’m not just an auto accident lawyer Memphis TN has turned to for more than 30 years, I’m also a husband and a father. I know firsthand that few things are as important as the moments we share with loved ones. It’s a tragedy for any family to celebrate the holidays without a loved one because of a fatal alcohol-related accident. Please take precautions to plan ahead for your New Year’s celebrations. I hope the tips below can be a starting point.

First and foremost, if you plan to drink, don’t drive.

  • Make sure you plan your ride home before going out for the night. Designate a sober friend to be the driver, or call a taxi.
  • If you are with someone who has been drinking, don’t ride home with them, and help them arrange a different way home, too.
  • If you’re hosting a party and serving alcohol, help your guests who have been drinking find a safe way home.

What to do if you see an impaired drive on the road

Sadly, you can make responsible choices and still be involved in an alcohol-related accident. It’s equally important to be prepared for impaired drivers on the road. Here are some tips.

First, know how to spot an impaired driver. The signs include the following.

  • Swerving
  • Driving onto the shoulder or anywhere that has not been designated for vehicles
  • Tailgating
  • Weaving across the road and drifting in and out of lanes
  • Erratic braking
  • Rapid acceleration or deceleration
  • Signaling that does not reflect driving actions
  • Driving without headlights
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Driving slower than 10 mph below the limit

If you see those signs, here’s my advice on what to do next.

  • Keep as great a distance as possible, but don’t try to pass the car or get the driver’s attention.
  • If you can do so safely, try to identify the license plate number and any details about the vehicle, such as the make, model or color.
  • Finally, call 911. But don’t forget to pull over before making the call (if you’re not using a hands-free device, that is). You’ll want to give a description of the vehicle, the reasons you think the driver is intoxicated, and the exact location, including cross streets.

Again, I hope these tips will help you have happy and safe New Year’s celebrations. Enjoy the holiday with your loved ones!