Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents in Louisiana
December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, and now more than ever it’s important for drivers to educate themselves about preventing and identifying drunk or drugged driving. According to the Louisiana Traffic Records Data Report 2019, there were 295 fatal drunk driving accidents in Louisiana last year alone.
These statistics are scary, but the truth is that, like most New Orleans car accidents, impaired driving crashes are often avoidable by planning ahead and using common sense. And although you can’t always control the actions of other motorists, knowing what warning signs to look out for on the road can save your life. Know what to do and how to reduce your risk of injury over the holidays with these tips from Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys.
1. Always Be a Defensive Driver
Defensive driving gets talked about a lot, especially when teenagers are first learning how to drive, but what exactly is defensive driving, and why is it so important in preventing drunk driving accidents in Louisiana? Knowing the rules of the road and the basic mechanics of operating a motor vehicle is the law, but there’s no guarantee that everyone else on the road will follow those rules. That’s where defensive driving comes in.
Defensive driving is about anticipating possible hazards and dangerous driving situations, whether that means inclement weather, driver errors, or impaired driving. General principles of defensive driving include:
- Maintaining a safe following distance (at least two seconds)
- Looking ahead (two blocks or traffic signals for urban areas, three for suburban areas, and a quarter mile ahead for rural areas)
- Respecting and watching other drivers
- Being alert and free from distractions
- Preparing for a driver or pedestrian to act or react in ways other than what is expected (i.e., not using a turn signal, swerving, jaywalking, not paying attention, etc.)
Defensive driving can’t prevent all accidents, but it can help you avoid many or at least reduce their severity.
2. Avoid Driving During Peak DUI Hours
Driving at night is always inherently riskier than driving during the day due to factors such as decreased visibility and driver fatigue. Although drunk driving accidents can happen anytime, approximately 60% of fatal drunk driving accidents happen between 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In addition, the majority of fatal drunk driving accidents in Louisiana happen on weekends, and accidents tend to spike during holiday weekends, especially those associated with heavy drinking. For this reason, one effective way to protect you and your loved ones from impaired drivers is to limit when you get behind the wheel.
As Christmas and New Year’s Eve approach, take note of when you’ll need to travel, whether it’s a long journey to visit family or just a quick trip to the store. Plan your car rides accordingly, and if you’re unable to avoid traveling during peak DUI hours, you can at least be on high alert during these times.
3. Learn How to Spot and Report an Impaired Driver
Two key elements to reducing the number of drunk driving accidents in Louisiana include recognizing what a drunk or drugged driver looks like and taking the appropriate steps to safely get them off the road. Anytime you’re driving—but specifically during weekends, holidays and at night—keep an eye out for suspicious behavior such as:
- Sudden stops or erratic braking
- Rapid acceleration
- Driving without headlights on at night
- Inaccurate signaling (or not signaling)
- Failure to respond to traffic signal changes
- Driving 10 miles or more below the posted speed limit
- Weaving through traffic or zig-zagging across lanes
- Almost hitting another vehicle or another object
- Abrupt or illegal turns (or an unusual turn radius)
- Driving in the middle of or on the wrong side of the road
Many people who witness this kind of behavior will try to get away from the suspected drunk driver (which is a good idea). But reporting suspected impaired drivers is just as crucial to protecting other drivers on the road.
If you see someone you suspect is driving under the influence, prioritize your own safety first. Do not try to pass them or get the driver’s attention. If possible, get as much information as you can about the vehicle or driver, including their license plate number and vehicle make and model. Use hands-free calling or pull over to a safe location to call 911, letting the operator know where the vehicle was last seen and which direction they were headed in.
4. Talk to Your Friends and Family about Drunk Driving
Have a conversation about impaired driving with your loved ones. We all know we shouldn’t drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, yet many people find reasons to justify their actions, thinking they’re only tipsy, close to home, or that they can’t afford their car to get towed.
Let your friends and family members know that they can call you if they ever need a ride home after drinking. When going out as a group, offer to be the designated driver. Just opening up this dialogue (especially with teenagers, who are less likely to admit to drinking) can serve as a reminder that the potential cost of drinking and driving far outweighs any perceived convenience.
What to Do If You’re Hit by a Drunk Driver in Louisiana
If you or a loved one has been injured in one of these drunk driving accidents in Louisiana, knowing what to do next can be scary. Serious accidents can result in a prolonged recovery time, permanent disability, lost wages, and mounting medical bills, not to mention pain and suffering.
Trying to obtain a fair settlement from the insurance company is just one more hassle drunk driving accident victims shouldn’t have to deal with on their own. To find out how a personal injury lawyer can help you move forward after an accident, contact Mike Brander Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. Give us a call at one of the phone numbers below, talk to a representative online using our LiveChat service, or send us a message about your case using this form. The call is free, and we don’t charge a penny unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.