Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Call It In

As people who travel the US highways and side streets, we see quite a lot of things out on the road.  We see vehicle crashes, fires, road hazards, aggressive drivers, odd behavior, and outright illegal stuff.  I've been calling 911 for years and reporting what I see.  Some times I've been laughed at, such as the time that a Hostess Doughnut truck was broken down on the Verrazano Narrows bridge and the 911 operator laughed out loud.  Cops and doughnuts have a relationship worth laughing at.

Then there was the time shortly after 9/11 when I was on the interstate near a college and a small car with clear windows pulled in front of me.  Inside were 4 people completely covered in white sheets or white hooded robes.  This vehicle pulled over on the shoulder and everyone inside jumped out of the car and changed seats in the car (Chinese fire drill is what I called that maneuver when I was growing up but I don't know why).  I called the FBI tip line and listened to the agent chuckling to himself.  I can only assume that this car was doing this as some sort of college prank all around the area or at least more than once.  These people in the car put on such a show that I didn't manage to get the license plate number.

The biggest thing that we normally see on the highway is erratic driving.  Most of the time these people are on their cell phones talking or texting.  Recently a driver was driving so crazy that they were pulling in front of people and slamming on their brakes then speeding up and pulling in front of more people and doing that over and over again.  I'm sure that I wasn't the only person who called 911 on that erratic driver, but they were pulled over shortly after my call.

Then there was a car that swerved off the highway far down into a grassy median and sat there.  I called 911, but by the time that police arrived the car was gone.  The company we are leased to has a strict policy on stopping on the shoulder unless you are involved in an accident or have a vehicle problem.  This makes it hard to stop on the shoulder whenever we want to.  There are many times when we want to stop, but can't because of this policy.  There are also very good reasons not to stop for people any more because of thefts, vandalism, and assault on the highway with no one around to help you.  Stopping for people on the shoulder is a very dangerous activity.  Still I consider it if I think that someone's life is in jeopardy.  So instead we call 911.

Usually on the highway, when an incident occurs and 911 is dialed, the local authorities are reached.  The 911 operator asks where the problem is and as soon as they find out the mile marker and highway number, they patch the caller through to the highway patrol or the local police who are handling the area.  This can take a few minutes and normally by the time the person who is in charge of the area is reached, the caller is out of the area.  Sometimes the problem is resolved before the authorities can arrive at the scene and sometimes the authorities simply arrive too late to do anything other than write up a report on whatever happened.

No matter what though, it's better to call in whatever incident happens because you just never know if you will be saving a life or not.

No comments: