Every day, nearly 30 people across the United States die in drunk driving accidents. Even more suffer serious injuries: spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, and amputations.
More than a million drivers annually face drunk driving charges—a number that, unfortunately, represents less than 1 percent of the individuals who report instances of impaired driving throughout the year. Meanwhile, innocent drivers who simply shared the road with drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol bear the brunt of the impact of those accidents.
Drunk Driving: The Consequences
Driving under the influence of alcohol slows reaction time and creates a lack of coordination that makes it incredibly difficult for many drivers to safely maneuver their vehicles. While some drunk drivers may slow to excessively reduced speeds to prevent anyone from noticing their inebriation, others, because of impaired decision-making skills, choose to travel at high rates of speed and ignore other traffic laws. Worse, alcohol also impairs concentration, making it difficult to focus on the road.
Many drivers find it difficult to predict the behaviors of inebriated drivers who share the road. As a result, even perfectly sober, attentive drivers may struggle to avoid accidents with drunk drivers.
Avoiding Drunk Driving Accidents
Any time you get in a car, you risk a potential accident: most people will file a car insurance claim an average of once every 17.9 years. That does not necessarily mean, however, that you cannot decrease your odds of an accident. In fact, you can take several actions that will keep you safe from a collision with a drunk driver, or at least potentially decrease the severity of the accident.
1. Know when to stay off the road.
Some times of day pose more dangers than others when it comes to hitting the road. 31 percent of drunk driving accidents, for example, occur on the weekend. Between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., more drunk drivers hit the road than during other times of day. You may also note higher levels of drunk drivers around holidays, especially New Year’s Eve. If you know you have a substantially increased risk of encountering a drunk driver, stay off the road if possible. Try to time your driving appropriately to avoid an accident.
2. Pay attention to other drivers around you.
Often, you can spot drunk and distracted drivers by the movements of their vehicles. Keep an eye on other drivers, especially during times of increased drunk driving risk. If you see a vehicle traveling erratically, give it plenty of room. Pull off the road yourself, if necessary, or take a different route to help decrease your odds of facing an accident. If you can, pull off to a safe location and call the police to let them know you spotted a drunk driver on the road.
3. Never get in a vehicle with an impaired driver.
If you had a few drinks, do not drive yourself until you know the alcohol has left your system. The same goes for friends who might try to drink and drive. Call Lyft or Uber, use a taxi, or call a sober friend or family member for a ride instead of getting in the car with a driver under the influence.
4. Take extra care at intersections.
When you pass through an intersection during hot times for drunk drivers, take extra care. Wait several seconds before proceeding through the intersection and keep a careful eye on the intersecting roads before progressing through.
What Happens After an Accident with a Drunk Driver?
Accidents with drunk drivers often cause more serious injuries than accidents with sober drivers simply because drunk drivers often make poor choices that increase the severity of the accident: traveling at higher rates of speed or failing to react properly due to impaired coordination and reflexes. Ultimately, however, the aftermath of an accident with a drunk driver proceeds much the same as any other type of accident for the victim. After the accident, you will:
1. Seek medical care as soon as possible.
Any time you suffer injuries in an accident, the sooner you seek medical care, the better. A doctor can better explain what injuries you suffered and how you should proceed after the accident, as well as identifying injuries like spinal cord trauma or even traumatic brain injury that might not show up immediately. Start keeping track of all of your medical records and bills immediately.
2. Collect relevant evidence at the scene, if possible.
You may want to take pictures of anything that proves the other driver’s fault in the accident or document behavior that told you the driver chose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You may also want to take a photo of the other driver’s license and insurance information to make it easier to connect with the insurance company later.
3. Notify your insurance company.
Even if you did not contribute to the accident, your insurance company can offer valuable advice about how to proceed after any accident, from a minor fender bender to a more serious accident with severe injuries.
4. Contact an attorney as soon as possible.
An attorney can offer many benefits to a car accident victim. When you work with an attorney, you will get a better idea of what compensation you deserve for your injuries, including compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost time at work, and, in the case of severe injuries, lost earning potential. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf, prevent you from accepting a settlement offer that fails to reflect the full extent of your injuries, and remove much of the weight of communicating with the insurance company from your shoulders. The sooner you connect with an attorney, the sooner that attorney can start work on your behalf, including collecting valuable evidence proving that the drunk driver caused the accident and your injuries.
Do You Need a New London Drunk Driving Accident Attorney?
If you need a New London drunk driving accident lawyer, contact Polito & Harrington today to schedule your free consultation. You can reach us through our contact form or at (860) 447-3300. We look forward to hearing from you!