Monday, April 26, 2010

What Would You Do?

About this time last year, son #2 and I were driving on I75 on our way to the post office (yes, I live in a place where it's faster to take a highway to the post office). I was driving in the slow lane, behind a minivan that was swerving a bit. As son # 2 was soon to get his license, I grabbed the teaching opportunity. How to make sure to leave plenty of room between your car and swerver--be very cautious. Try to go around if it's safe to do so. If swerving doesn't cease (we've all swerved a bit, changing radio stations, answering phones) it might be best to make a call and report the erratic driving.

We were kind of stuck behind the driver as we were exiting the highway in half a mile. And I watched, cringing, as the driver *really* swerved, hitting the grooved area along the berm. Then he jerked back into the lane. I was reaching for my phone to call him in when he swerved again, went off the road, and hit a guardrail. His minivan spun around a couple of times and came to a stop. And even though I was following WAY behind him, I practically had to stand on my brakes to avoid hitting him (another lesson for son #2--how long it truly takes to stop).

I pulled off to the side of the road, called the police, was transferred three times or so to the proper people, and then hopped out to see if the guy was okay. He was stumbling around his van. He insisted he was. I got back in my car, gave all my info to the state police people, and left. I don't know whether the man was drunk or sleeping behind the wheel or what, but I do know how lucky he was.

This morning as I was returning from dropping the kids of at their schools, I neared a busy intersection close to my house and saw that there had been an accident within the last couple of minutes. There were people milling about, but no police cars or paramedics had yet made it to the scene. I fought the urge to pull over, to see if I could help and crept on by.

Now, I'm feeling guilty. Where does that come from? I don't have medical training--I couldn't have helped in any possible way. There were dozens of people around--no doubt a lot of them actually witnessed the accident. And I'm sure there had also been more than a couple of calls to the police already. So why the guilt? I'm not sure. Guilt or no, I do hope everyone was okay, and I do wish the powers that be would make that road safer--there are a lot of accidents.

So, what would you have done? Are you one to jump into the fray? Or do you creep on by? Or like me, does it depend on the circumstances?



  1. I think it would depend on the situation as in the incident you witness when you called the police. I probably would have called the police even though I would assume the people at the scene would have called.

    You probably feel that way because you wanted to help, but there's was nothing you could do.

  2. Totally depends on the circumstances. If there isn't anyone there, I will stop. If there are more qualified people there, I move on. I have called on Drunk Drivers before and infront of my kids so they learn the lesson too.

  3. That is crazy it is a good thing that you were not in a hurry, and using it as a teaching method.

    I believe that everyone feels guilty when presented with a chance to be the overachiever, and not taking it. I always try to look at things with this mentality. If I was in that position would I have needed help at that moment. If the answer is yes you should have stopped.

  4. I try to live by that rule, too--would I want someone to help me (my kids, my family, etc). And I think that's maybe why I didn't stop this morning--there were already a lot of people there, whereas on that highway, I was an eyewitness and the closest person to the accident (and no one else stopped, by the way). I still can't believe that guy walked away.

  5. Definitely depends on the situation! Friends and I had a similar experience to yours a few years ago. Returning home from a Fourth of July event, the guy in front of us was driving quite eratically - obviously drunk. We did call it in and, unfortunately, were told there were no available units near our stretch of highway at the time. They did take the plate and info, though. Hopefully the guy was either picked up after we had to exit, or made it home without incident. I hope it was the former!

  6. I haven't had to stop yet to call in an accident *knock on wood*. but so thankful when people stopped to call when I was in an accident. it was the last thing on my mind.