Ever been cut off by a driver using their cell phone, or nearly caused a collision because a truck suddenly swerved into your lane? Road incidents with unsafe drivers can be scary, but remember that you can protect yourself and your fellow commuters by calling 911.

If a car is weaving in and out of traffic or consistently running red lights, the driver shouldn’t be on the road. If you’re suspicious that a motorist may be drunk, impaired, or even texting, don’t hesitate — pull over, call 911 and report the situation. You could be saving lives.

Signs of Unsafe Driving

Because calling 911 is reserved strictly for emergencies, many of us hesitate to report unsafe drivers because we’re not sure just how dangerous they are. If you’re not sure, ask yourself this: Is the vehicle putting people in harm’s way?

Unsafe driving behaviors can span from aggressive navigation of traffic to straddling two lanes. Let’s say you see a car that keeps drifting into your lane. If the driver appears sleepy or distracted, has his/her hands off the steering wheel, etc., it’s time to make the call.

However, simple motor violations, like skipping one stop sign, don’t merit a 911 call. The danger must be immediate and easily observed.

Rearview mirror view of woman talking on phone while driving

A textbook example of unsafe driving: a motorist talks on a cell phone and isn’t focused on the road.

You should also make the call if you see a driver texting or making a phone call without a headset.

Over 3,000 people are killed every year due to improper cell phone use on the road — and even one quick glance at a cell phone can mean the different between a safe ride and a serious accident.


What to Do When Calling in the Emergency

If you’re sure whether a driver is putting others in danger, take note of the vehicle’s make, model, license plate number and any identifying characteristics of the car or the driver. Keep as far from the dangerous vehicle as possible, and under NO cirumstances should you try to follow it.

Also, do not try to grab a cell phone photo — using your own phone also violates the law and can endanger yourself and others.

Hand holding up cell phone in front of steering wheel

Always pull over! Even if you’re calling 911, pull over before making the call or snapping pictures.

Pull over, wait until you’ve arrived at your destination or have your passenger make the 911 call for you.

Be sure to let the 911 operator know any pertinent details. Describe dangerous behavior you observed and note the direction the car is traveling, as well as your location when you observed the unsafe driving.

Keep in mind that by calling in the emergency, you may be asked to serve as a witness if the dangerous driver is brought to court for his/her actions.



Calling 911: Use Your Instincts

It can be difficult to bring yourself to call 911 for a road emergency, but keep in mind that distracted or aggressive driving of any kind is prohibited for a reason — it can have deadly results for other innocent drivers.

Even if the driver seems to be fine, a car that appears to have faulty brakes or uneven steering is also a danger to others on the road.

Have you ever been faced with the decision to call 911 because of an unsafe driver? Tell us about your experience in the comments.


See Also

Toyota Recalls Over 800,000 Camry, Venza & Avalon Cars over Airbag Safety Problem
Huge Subaru Recall Prompted by Brake Issue: Is Your Car Unsafe?
Google’s Driverless Car, Demystified

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