What to do if you are sharing the road with an impaired or aggressive driver?
We are in the midst of the holiday season. That means our roads are full of holiday traffic. Shoppers are bustling about. Families and friends are coming together.
It can get a bit crazy and dangerous out there.
Be mindful of the fact increased traffic is the norm, not the exception, as you travel Jackson County’s roadways during the holidays.
There’s an old adage in sports: Defense wins championship. When it comes to traveling the roads during the holidays or any other time of the year, a championship is having a safe, accident-free trip. So, drive defensively.
Aggressive driving is a leading cause of accidents – behind only driving while impaired and excessive speed.
Remember to use the left lane of multi-lane roadways for passing only. The left lane is not a travel lane. Driving the speed limit and keeping to the right when not passing are excellent ways to ensure a smooth trip.
“Getting together” for the holidays can often involve consuming alcoholic beverages. It should go without saying that these drinks should be enjoyed in moderation. Drinking and driving can be a deadly mix.
Jackson County law enforcement has a zero tolerance policy toward drinking and driving. We don’t give warnings — not when it comes to this profoundly reckless behavior. Christmas and New Year’s are no exception. In fact, while we are always vigilant about impaired drivers, it is during the holidays that we step up our efforts to be on the lookout for those engaging in this illegal and potentially lethal activity. This is the season when the Jackson County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies in the County, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, work together to increase patrols for impaired drivers.
We want to get them off the roads to make holiday travel safer for our citizens. Just keep in mind, when you drink and drive, you not only risk spending Christmas in jail or starting 2010 with the stain of a DUI on your record. You put in peril your life and the lives of everyone who might meet you on the road.
What should you do if you find yourself sharing the road with an aggressive or possibly impaired driver?
If you believe the driver poses a danger to others and/or himself or herself, notify law enforcement. Dial 9-1-1 on your cell phone. You’ll be automatically connected to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Provide a description of the driver’s vehicle, including the license plate number. Indicate where you encountered this driver – the road, near what landmark, mile marker, etc. – and what direction the driver was going.
Most importantly, remember to drive safely yourself. If possible, pull off the road to make your 9-1-1 call and to put some distance between yourself and the other vehicle. Do not attempt to follow the other driver. Do not confront him or her. Even if you lose sight of the vehicle, rest assured the dispatcher will pass on the information to the nearest law officers on patrol.
I want to wish all you who call Jackson County home or will be visiting our area a happy and safe holidays. Remember to drive defensively. Be patient and politely share the road.
Sheriff Mike Sharp