The Truth Will Set You Free

As I’ve written before, my job is never dull. Anything that can happen on the Interstate Highway happens while I’m at work. I’ve witnessed Horrific Accidents, Car Fires [The CarBQ], Medical Emergencies, Stolen Vehicles, and too many Deer lying on the shoulder. The danger is never-ending and tends to creep up on the unsuspecting driver during times of . . . well . . . when driver’s are demonstrating a complete disregard for their surroundings.

What does that mean? Well, how many drivers have their priorities straight? How many drivers spend their time driving while they’re driving? We live in a world of distraction and mayhem. How many drivers allow this madness to ride shotgun with them on the highway? Lives are lost due to distracted driving and following too close.

While patrolling the Interstate two days ago, I noticed an SUV veering towards the left shoulder just two cars behind me. I watched as the vehicle crashed into the barrier and then began to slow down and stop, apparently doing its best to avoid being sideswiped. I was close enough to see the driver wasn’t injured beyond the possibility of a minor bump or bruise. Because I was moving at 60 MPH and traffic was heavy, rapidly changing lanes and stopping was out of the question. I would have to use the next exit and circle back.

All of this was going through my mind as a small Kia darted from the scene. I immediately considered the possibility that the Kia had cut the other vehicle off, thereby forcing it into the wall. It looked as though the SUV driver was trying to avoid being sideswiped when he steered into the concrete barrier?

I caught up to the KIA, although not without exceeding the 65 MPH speed limit. I estimated the vehicle’s speed in excess of 80 MPH. I considered another possibility; maybe the driver of the KIA was trying to keep me from getting its license plate. Well, I already had the plate number. When I reached the bottom of the ramp at the next exit, I was able to get a driver description as well.

Interestingly enough, the woman behind the wheel didn’t appear to be demonstrating any signs of fear or guilt. In fact, she had either mastered the art of serene or was utterly innocent. I’m going with my first instinct. She was guilty although also a [Master of Calm].

I was on my way to check on an accident farther north when this incident popped off. Dispatch had asked me to lend a hand to CSP [Colorado State Patrol]. I contacted another driver and advised him of the situation. He agreed to look for the Chevy Tahoe that had hit the wall, allowing me to continue with my previous task. I started north once more.

Our plan fell apart immediately. I spotted the Tahoe before I reached the end of the ramp. Apparently, the driver had gone from the left shoulder to the right shoulder and had limped his vehicle nearly one mile north of the original location of the crash. It seems the impact had taken out the entire corner of his truck including shredding one tire.

After calling into my dispatch, I hit my lights and began rolling up the shoulder behind the Tahoe. My plans had changed; this vehicle was now my priority, and I would need to stay with it. The man spotted me, stopped, and climbed out of his truck. He was obviously shaken from what had happened just minutes before.

I asked the driver if he was okay after hitting the wall. I also asked him about the Kia. His answer surprised me. He told me that he hadn’t hit the wall but was the victim of a hit and run. Furthermore, he said the Kia wasn’t involved. Before the conversation could continue, I noticed two police cars rolling up the shoulder towards us with their lights flashing. It seems things were going to get interesting.

I walked back to speak with the four officers. Another driver had called 911 and reported the incident. The witness stated, “the SUV had steered across two lanes as if the driver had suffered a heart attack. Crashing directly into the wall without any apparent reason whatsoever.” Hmmmmm . . . conflicting stories without a doubt.

Since my story matched the witness’s story, it was evident to the police the driver of the Tahoe was attempting to make a false report. Why? So he could avoid a ticket for careless driving, of course. And that’s precisely what happened; he was cited and given a court date. Even though the man tried to lie to both me and the police, I still towed the man’s Tahoe off the highway to a safe location where his family was waiting for him.

I still believe the driver of the Kia cut him off. Unfortunately, the Tahoe driver chose to create a story about a large truck hitting the left side of his vehicle instead of sticking with the truth. The lie backfired. If the man would have stayed with the truth, I could have backed his story and provided a description of the vehicle that had forced him into the wall. At the end of the day, he got the ticket, and the woman who caused the incident went home free. Well, possibly not free. I still handed over her plate and description to the officers. I’ll probably never know how it ends, though.

The highway is dangerous enough already without someone crashing into a wall, driving away, and then lying about everything. Every time we get out of our vehicle, we’re risking our lives. It’s not uncommon for First Responders to get hit while working on the highway. That said, I love my job. I won’t do anything else between now and my move to Texas.

How did this piece begin? Oh yes, driver’s spending their time driving while they’re driving. Staying connected to one’s environment is critical for survival. Who knows how many drivers are using their cellphones or watching a video. Possibly, every single car in your vicinity is suffering from distracted driving and following too close. The difference between driving past an accident and being involved in one is the distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you.

Defensive driving will save your life.

Drive safe, people!

Joseph Shanklin

July 3, 2021

2 thoughts on “The Truth Will Set You Free [Even While Driving]

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