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How To Detect Drunk Drivers

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On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 2:29PM | By: Peter C Sessler

How To Detect Drunk Drivers

Even with all the stigma attached to driving under the influence (DUI), public warnings, increasingly stiffer sentences, etc., people just don’t seem to get the message. Tens of thousands of people still die each year because of drunk-driving—and it could be anyone. You really can’t assume that there are particular classes of people who DUI.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has put together a booklet that lists visual clues that can be used to identify whether a nighttime driver is likely to be drunk or not, based on the results of field studies in which clues were observed in more than 4,600 patrol stops correlated with driver blood-alcohol concentrations (BAC). These clues or cues account for more than 90 percent of all DUI detections.

I‘ve listed the cues below. The number given with each visual cue is the probability that a driver exhibiting that cue has a BAC equal to or greater than 0.10.

For example, the 65 percent is for the first cue, turning wide with radius, means that chances are 65 out of 100 that a driver who turns with wide radius at night will have a BAC equal to or greater than 0.10.

65% - Turning with wide radius.

65% - Straddling center or lane marker.

60% - Appearing to be drunk. Examples of specific indicators usually include: eye fixation, tightly gripping the steering wheel, slouching in the seat, gesturing erratically or obscenely, face close to the windshield, drinking in the vehicle, or driver’s head protruding from vehicle.

60% - Almost striking object or vehicle. Examples include: passing abnormally close to a sign, wall, building, or other object; passing abnormally close to another moving vehicle; and causing another vehicle to maneuver to avoid collision.

60% - Weaving.

55% - Driving on other than designated roadway. Examples include: driving at the edge of the roadway, on the shoulder, off the roadway entirely, and straight through turn-only lanes or areas.

55% - Swerving.

50% - Speed slower than 10 MPH below limit.

50% - Stopping without cause in traffic lane.

50% - Following too closely.

50% - Drifting. Drifting is a straight-line movement of the vehicle at a slight angle to the roadway. As the driver approaches a marker or boundary (lane marker, center line, edge of the roadway), the direction of the drift might change.

45% - Tires on center lane or lane marker. The left-hand set of tires of the observed vehicle is consistently on the center line, or either set of tires is consistently on the lane marker.

45% - Braking erratically.

45% - Driving into opposing or crossing traffic.

40% - Signaling inconsistent with driving actions.

40% - Slow response to traffic signals.

35% - Stopping inappropriately (Other than in traffic lane). Examples include: stopping in a prohibited zone, at a crosswalk, far short of an intersection, on a walkway, across lanes, for a green traffic signal, or for a flashing yellow traffic signal.

35% - Turning abruptly or illegally. Specific examples include: turning with excessive speed, turning sharply from the wrong lane, making a U-turn illegally, and turning from outside a designated turn lane.

30% - Accelerating or decelerating rapidly.

30% - Headlights off.

Now, as a driver, you may wonder what sort of strategy to take if you see someone exhibiting some of the above driving cues, especially if the driver is ahead of you. Most people just want to get away from that driver as quickly as possible, but that may not always be the best choice. For example, if you have someone driving erratically in front of you, and you get a safe opportunity to pass, don’t. You don’t know if that driver will end up being behind you when you least expect it at some point down the road. Let’s say you pull over to let the driver pass, what if the driver pulls over with you? You get the idea. By not passing and keeping the driver ahead of you, you are still in control of the situation.


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