I’m feeling a little conflicted between encouraging people to turn into “snitches” and being frustrated driving past people who are looking at their cellphones and texting to their heart’s delight. Maybe because we lost Amy in a traffic ‘situation’ (“accident” is not the right word), I’m more aware of the potential damage of distracted driving.
A few weeks ago, I was on I-94 and found myself next to a guy who had his phone propped up against the steering wheel while he thumbed away at the screen. I hoped he was dialing a phone number or maybe scrolling through a playlist, but this went on and on. I looked over a few times, trying to catch a glimpse of what he was doing without turning myself into a Distracted Driver. He looked up from his screen every now and then to check that he was still…what? On the road? Hadn’t rear-ended someone? That there were no cops on the horizon?
He went on like that for a long time – 30 or 40 seconds. Thirty or forty seconds doesn’t seem like a lot, but any of us who have been around car accidents know that it only takes a second or two of inattention for something to happen.
I wondered what to do. My first instinct was to call the police, but what to tell them? And how effective is it if it’s my word against his? On top of that, I assume the police have better things to do.
I thought about pulling in front of him and slowing down to, say, 10 miles an hour but … well, let’s say I tried something similar once and it didn’t go well. (Yes, I admit it. It was stupid and dangerous, but lying to you about it doesn’t make it go away.)
So, I did nothing.
Which led to me poking around the Internet today. I found some interesting things and I’m going to share them.
Three things, three posts.
The first one is that the police in many states (I didn’t look at all 50) do encourage calling 911 if you see a “reckless driver”. I guess that’s a judgment call. An article from Consumer Reports quoted a Connecticut State Poiiceman who put it this way: “911 should not be used for simple motor vehicle violations. The driving behavior must be a danger to the public and place people in harm’s way,” [source: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/05/should-i-call-911-to-report-a-dangerous-driver/index.htm]
Here’s a Michigan reference: http://www.michiganautolaw.com/blog/2016/11/14/report-reckless-driving/ . Michigan State Police also suggest calling 911 instead of the State Police. They will just tell you to call 911.
Will I do it next time? I don’t know.
I once called 911 about a guy who was a clear case of “reckless” driving, weaving all over the lanes and cutting in and out of traffic at high speed. I saw two cars slam on their brakes on I-94 to avoid hitting him. I called 911 but they asked me “what city are you in?” I did my best to guess (I was somewhere between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor) but when I told them the name of the street I saw on an overpass, they said they’d have to connect me to a different police department. By then, we came to the intersection of US-23 and the car exited heading north. I told them that and hung up.
So, no, I’m not sure if I’ll call it in next time, but I wanted to share at least the bit of information I found on this so you can make your own decision.