Protecting Your Passengers From Themselves

Posted on January 1, 2011

It is a proven fact that people who have a designated driver will consume more alcohol than they would if they had to drive themselves home. Whether it is in a limousine or on a bus, the consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs can easily create problems for professional chauffeurs that they may not be prepared to deal with. This can include fi ghts among passengers or with third parties, or acting dangerously, such as hanging out of an open moon-roof or window. At some point, we may be required to intervene to protect the passenger, the vehicle, and the chauffeur. It is always hard to determine how much fun is too much. Chauffeurs should have some type of training in saying enough is enough. Protocols or policies should be followed when a passenger can no longer safely move about or poses a risk to others or the vehicle. A sure sign is when a passenger no longer understands or follows basic instructions; then you must act.

According to an article published in Medical News Today, recognizing intoxication can sometimes be diffi cult for medical professionals, so understandably, we must make judgment calls based on observation. There are obvious signs, such as watching your passenger drink many alcoholic beverages or display exaggerated emotions, such as anger, giddiness, or excitability. Then there are visible signs such as slurred speech and stumbles. Lowered inhibitions from intoxication can cause a person to start talking more than normal and much louder. Other signs include losing thoughts in mid-sentence, lighting the wrong end of a cigarette, putting an unopened bottle to one’s lips, or repeatedly asking the chauffeur to pull over to urinate or vomit. As a person becomes more inebriated, he or she is unable to focus. All of these signs combined or just a handful could indicate your passenger is drunk.

A commercial driver is always the “captain” of the vehicle. The chauffeur is responsible for making decisions and taking responsibility for the trip. Management should always support a chauffeur’s decision to act. A review can be done later. At stake at the moment is the safety of and liability for human cargo and an expensive vehicle. The type of action you choose can be as simple as taking the person home to the more drastic option of involving law enforcement for a possible arrest for public intoxication. The latter may be necessary if no one is available to care for your passenger. If your client has a loss of motor control, bodily functions, or cannot coordinate walking, then you should never leave that person alone. There is clearly a level of intoxication where medical intervention may be necessary; leaving a person in this condition could have serious consequences. The best course of action is to have other more sober passengers familiar with the intoxicated person intervene. They are more likely to better communicate with a friend. If you must eject a passenger, you should have another employee from your company meet the vehicle for safety. If you believe there will be trouble, call the police and park the vehicle until they meet you.

• Difficulty walking
• Slurred speech
• Repeated need to urinate
• Observation of consumption
• Loud speech
• Loss of thought process
• Unfocused eyes
• Moving slowly/stumbling
Sources – Medical News Today and LCT

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