Imagine the following scenario: another car crashes into yours, sending adrenaline coursing through your body. Worse, when you get out of the car, you quickly realize that the other driver has overindulged in alcohol. His behavior is erratic, loud, and disruptive. It happens all the time. In Virginia, drunk driving accidents injured 4,430 and killed 248 in 7,285 crashes in a single year. In the Richmond area, alcohol contributed to seven crashes and four injuries in a single year. How should you handle a drunk driver at the scene of the accident?
Keep Yourself SafeNo matter what happens at an accident scene, prioritize keeping yourself and your passengers safe. If you believe a drunk driver poses a danger to you or them, stay in the car and wait for the police to arrive. Avoid making inflammatory statements, including statements that indicate fault or accuse the other driver of making a serious mistake. You don’t want to create further danger for yourself or others at the scene. Try to remain calm and wait for help to arrive. If you believe the drunk driver poses a serious danger to you or your passengers, even when everyone is safely inside your vehicle, you may leave the scene of the accident; however, you should notify dispatch that you plan to leave and where you plan to go.
Encourage PatienceDrunk drivers may not want to wait for help to arrive. They may want to leave the scene to avoid trouble, or they may honestly believe that there’s no reason to stay. Encourage patience, and try some of the following strategies:
- Speak in a calm voice, using simple concepts and smaller words to help aid comprehension.
- Make sure to exercise patience yourself. Many times, remaining calm will encourage others at the scene of the accident to stay calm, too, especially drunk or otherwise impaired individuals.
- Avoid arguments. Arguments can get everyone riled up and prevent you from getting the result you really want: a peaceful driver who waits for the police with you.