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How to spot -- and avoid -- unsafe drivers

The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are well-known and much talked about. However, driving while drowsy or distracted can be just as dangerous. Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are not to be guilty of those things, we share the road with people who are.

The best we can do is stay as far away as possible from people who are driving under the influence, haven't gotten enough sleep or are distracted by their phone, a snack, others in their vehicle or their own problems. While we can't know what condition the drivers around us are in, if we pay attention, we can spot unsafe behaviors that indicate that a driver is in less-than-optimal driving condition. These include:

  • Driving too fast or too slowly
  • Repeatedly changing lanes -- usually without signaling
  • Wandering out of their lane
  • Staying at a stop sign or light for too long

It's easy to spot these behaviors if you're driving behind or alongside someone. Unfortunately, many people don't encounter an unsafe driver until they hit them in an intersection. Intersections are some of the most dangerous places on the roads.

Distracted and impaired drivers too often ignore traffic signals and right-of-way rules and go barreling into an intersection, striking unsuspecting drivers. That's why it's essential to look around before entering an intersection, even when you have the right-of-way.

If you spot an unsafe driver, give yourself some extra space. Stay safely behind them. Don't engage them. That's how many road rage incidents begin. It's not your job to confront the driver. Don't honk at them unless it's necessary to avoid a collision.

If a driver continues their dangerous behavior, it's best to call 911. However, wait until you can pull over safely (unless one of your passengers can do it). Be prepared to give the location and direction of the vehicle and a description of it, including license plate number, color, make and model. Describe the unsafe activity you witnessed. Don't just say you saw the driver texting or putting on makeup.

If you are injured in a collision caused by an unsafe driver, you may need to take legal action to seek the compensation required to deal with your injuries and other expenses and damages. It's wise to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney.

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