How often and when do you call 911 while driving?

Recently a group of drivers had an interesting debate on calling 911 if we see someone walking down the interstate. Some said mind your own business and others said they call every time. The discussion started by only calling 911 if they see someone walking down the interstate at night and not wearing any reflective gear.

After the discussion, there seemed to be a common thread, and this was confirmed with an emergency response dispatcher in Missouri; walking along the interstate is illegal. Some of the reasons why you should call 911 when you see someone walking down the interstate is because the person on the side of the road could:

  • Have dementia
  • Be a victim of sex trafficking
  • Be lost
  • Be a victim of kidnapping
  • Have thoughts of committing suicide using a truck
  • Be inebriated
  • Be on drugs
  • Be a wanted criminal

I had not thought of all these other reasons to call. The two that scared me most were dementia and suicide by truck.

During driver training classes we have attended, one of the common themes is to think someone else has called 911 and, in the end, no one has actually called. It’s better to have too many 911 calls than none at all. After seeing someone walking down the interstate, I often do call 911 if it’s at night but during the day I don’t call. I reasoned that I could see further, and so can everyone else, so it would be harder to run over someone. After calling 911, we will never know if we saved someone’s life, or if we made their life miserable, but I know I rest easier than I would if I did nothing.

There are state numbers that can be called for non-emergencies in order to talk directly to the highway patrol. I have not spoken with anyone who has been able to make these numbers work, but just in case, here they are as well as a link to the website:


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Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda started their driver careers after their children left home for college in 2000. Bob started as a driver for a large motor carrier with Linda as a rider. They decided to enter the Expedite industry as team drivers in 2005 and purchased their first Freightliner. Both, Bob and Linda have had their Class A licenses since the early 80's starting out driving in the oil field and hauling grain as fill in drivers where Bob worked as a diesel mechanic. Linda worked at the local country courthouse in data processing.

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