Wednesday afternoon at about 3:15 p.m. I was driving Northbound on I-5.
I saw a white pickup truck in the center lane swerve badly in my left lane. Was he picking up his phone? Momentarily distracted? Drunk?
I then saw the truck go halfway into the right hand lane before dangerously correcting. Medical condition? Falling asleep? Drunk?
I decided to give the truck a lot of leeway. But then it suddenly slowed down from 60 to about 45 mph and again swerved into the right lane.
I needed to get past and away from this menace. I started to pass in the left lane. As I was alongside, he again came way over into my lane. I quickly checked to make sure there wasn’t a carpooler flying up before I went halfway into the HOV lane to avoid a collision. I – or any one of hundreds of other people – could have easily been killed by this truck that was all over I-5.
Every year, more than 10,000 people are killed in alcohol related crashes. That’s a 9/11 every four months. It’s a Sandy Hook Elementary every day. (CDC)
As I saved my life and got past this pickup truck, I looked over and saw business graphics on the side – it was a work truck for a major construction company. I noted the phone number.
The average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before they are arrested one time. (MADD)
I made two phone calls. The first was to 911-State Patrol to report a suspected drunk driver. The second was to the construction company to tell them they had a truck all over the road on I-5 North. The woman who answered the phone said she would tell a supervisor.
Now, my dilemma: Should I let it go? I doubt if the State Patrol made a stop/arrest. I think they rarely do when they get these calls from people like me.
Should I follow up with the construction company? I don’t particularly care to out them and give the company name here or on the air. I don’t want some hard working business owner to be hurt because of some idiot employee who was drinking at three in the afternoon. But as a condition of me not outing them, should I demand to know if they disciplined the driver? The guy could have killed me on my afternoon commute home. But me pushing could cost this man his livelihood. Is that too steep a price just because he happened to swerve in front of a talk-show host?
I hate drunk driving. Am I 100 percent certain this guy was drunk? No. But I am 100 percent certain that he was very dangerous and should not have been driving? Yes. I also got a good look at the guy. I could pick him out of a picture array if the company claimed they don’t know who was driving (I did not get the license plate number.)
I went to the company’s website – this is a major construction company with several big projects around the Northwest.
If I let it go and I later learn that someone driving drunk from this company killed somebody, would I be able to live with my inaction?
Dori spoke with the company, who followed up immediately with the driver and handled the matter with the utmost gravity. When they called back, they told Dori the driver had said he was exhausted and getting over the flu. The driver’s supervisor said he trusts this man, who has a family and isn’t the kind of person to get liquored up in the afternoon and then drive.
News anchor Ursula Reutin speculated that the man may have taken some flu medicine that made him more tired, and, consequently, a dangerous driver.
Dori said that he’s going to take the man at his word; because the driver admitted to nearly hitting Dori on the freeway, Dori thinks that it’s likely that he was being honest about the situation.