Watch out when the drunken gremlins take over in the back of the limo.
I am departing from my usual driving and vehicle safety gems this week to cover an issue involving driver safety. David Monsey with Avalon Executive Transportation in Indianapolis asked how to handle belligerently drunk passengers.
This was a great question since many livery passengers overindulge in alcoholic beverages knowing they have a safe driver. Unfortunately, this makes us unwittingly become a caretaker, a nurse, a counselor and a warden in addition to being a chauffeur. The skills of each of these occupations must be invoked when dealing with drunks. An added bonus for me is the fact that I spent 10 years slinging drinks as a bartender. I learned that drunks fall into one of three categories: Passive, aggressive or romantic. While the latter means you might have to restrain yourself from enjoying some unexpected attention, the aggressive drunk is the one to worry about.
Once you see a passenger is getting out of control, enlist the aid of his friends and fellow passengers first. Let them know that if things get worse, you may have to take him home or drop him off in a safe location as your job is to maintain control in the vehicle. In the event they don't or won't take action, hand the passenger a bottle of water and engage in small talk to build a relationship with the passenger. Sometimes just getting in a conversation will help calm someone down.
Unless you are positive the rest of the crew in the vehicle will support you, never try to kick someone out of the vehicle alone. The crowd can turn on you in an instant and you may be outnumbered. If you decide to terminate the ride for everyone, have another person from your company meet you at the pick-up location or drive to the nearest police station and ask them to exit the vehicle there if you are getting pushback about ending the ride. If you need to do this, put the partition up as you begin the drive to protect yourself. Call the police and tell them you are on the way.
Never try to take on one passenger or all of the passengers on your own if there is any doubt. Drunk people do stupid things like falling out of party buses on the freeway or sticking their head out of emergency exits while going under bridges. You must keep the vehicle under control but you also must ensure you don't get attacked in the process.
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