This past Saturday morning (March 30, 2019), I was running some errands in the Brentwood/Franklin area. The weather was beautiful with nothing to hamper my enjoyable midday drive.
I was traveling northbound on Franklin Road toward Brentwood. The traffic was rather congested at 12:00noon but it wasn’t out of the ordinary. The vehicles were moving at a normal rate of speed with traffic progressing in both directions. Almost in a split second, the vehicle in front of me – a Ford F250 suddenly, with no warning or turn indicator shown, began to make a narrow-left turn onto South Berry’s Chapel Road. The traffic from the other direction was moving normally including an SUV that showed no indication of turning nor was he given the time to slow down as this vehicle left turned in front of him. The older male driver in that SUV had less than 50 feet to avoid this vehicle turning in front of him.
An unavoidable collision!
As most witnesses to accidents will tell you, a collision happens very quick and this one was no exception! The F250 actually turned onto the west bound lane – not the eastbound lane where he should have turned if he had made a 90 degree turn angle. The oncoming vehicle had 3 options:
- Heavy brake the car and STOP! (he didn’t have time in that 50 feet to avoid the turning vehicle)
- Turn to the LEFT of the lane and he would have hit me head-on!
- Turn right with hope that he could turn quick enough to avoid the left-turning vehicle. He didn’t have time for that either!
So, all I could do was come to a dead-stop in my lane and hope no one was hurt. The airbag on the oncoming SUV exploded filling up the front seat!. The gentleman, inside, although slow to get out of his vehicle because of that airbag, made it out and initially appeared OK. The Ford F250 was temporarily stunned/stopped for about 20 seconds. I waited for that male driver in his late 30’s or early 40’s to get out of his vehicle.
He NEVER got out of his vehicle!
Suddenly, the F250 began moving away with damage to his front right bumper/quarter panel side with what appeared to be fluid draining from the vehicle. He slowly accelerated the vehicle from the accident. I initially thought he would pull over to the side of the road. He didn’t! He kept driving east bound on South Berry’s Chapel. In an instant, I had to make an important decision:
- “Do I follow him and help this other driver who apparently was going to be the victim of a hit & run?”
- “If I follow him, is it a smart move not knowing this person’s demeanor or if he had a gun in that vehicle?”
- “Could I at least never get out of my car and get a tag number for the authorities?”
I had all that run through my mind in about 10 seconds. I immediately decided to ask the oncoming traffic to stop and let me make that left turn; go around that wrecked SUV and follow this hit & run driver to at least get the tag number.
About a mile from the scene, this driver had pulled into a driveway and as I slowly passed, I got the TAG number and noticed he had gotten out of the vehicle.
Things became VERY clear!
The driver could hardly stand. He was walking around in circles, stumbled a couple of times and appeared to be completely dazed at what had just happened. I stayed just long enough to see that. I drove forward a few feet, turned my vehicle around and drove back by the parked damaged truck to see the driver still stumbling around. I confirmed the tag number with another glance and quickly headed back to the scene.
The Franklin Fire Department had gotten there within 2 minutes of the accident. The Franklin Police officer was there just after the FD and about 5 minutes later, The Williamson County Sheriff deputy (who has jurisdiction of this area) arrived. When I returned, the driver of the SUV who was hit was on the phone appearing to be in good condition with only a cut on his back. I spoke with the Franklin PD officer and gave my description of what had happened. I conveyed to him the tag number and what I had seen from the driveaway vehicle – especially the condition of the driver! Another Franklin Police officer walked up and asked me where the vehicle was. I offered to drive my vehicle with him to follow to show him where I had last seen it. He was glad to have that help!
The Drunk Driver wasn’t staying put!
As I approached the vehicle location 2 second time with the Franklin Police officer behind me, The Ford F250 was backing out of that driveway and was going to continue west away from the accident scene. I slowed my vehicle – put my arm out of the window to let the officer know THAT was the vehicle pulling out. Immediately, the office activated his sirens/lights, passed me and carefully approached the vehicle who began to pull back into the driveway after seeing the policeman’s presence. I slowed to an almost stop and as I passed the area, the officer asked the man to get up against is truck, he cuffed him and was walking him to the backseat of the police car.
I quickly returned to the scene. I asked the other officer if he needed more from me. He wanted to know my name, DOB, address and phone number for the police report. He was very kind and so appreciative of the help.
Alcohol and Driving a vehicle cannot exist together!
I’ve heard and read stories about this throughout my 40+ year insurance career and have been behind what was obvious to me – intoxicated drivers of motor vehicles. I’ve had some insureds who have been charged with DUI and had to go through punishment and penalties for the danger they caused.
The driver of the F250 should have never turned on the ignition of that vehicle Saturday. He was so extremely dazed and confused, I’m not sure he realized what had happened except that his truck was damaged.
I quickly went to the insurance angle of what happened which I most often do. His premiums will double or triple IF – IF the company that is insuring him will continue to insure him. Because he drove away from the scene, he’s going to have a hard time even being insurable with that record now following him for AT LEAST 5 years. And it cannot be missed that he’ll most likely spend thousands of dollars as he faces a meeting with a judge and probable jail time in Williamson County for these errors in judgement.
We can help those who might not be able to help themselves!
When we see others (or maybe yourself who is reading this) caught in these circumstances, let’s get help! This appeared to be alcohol related but there are drug addictions that sadly follow alongside alcohol. Here are some nationally known helpful resources:
- www.Alcohol.org (866.617.6298)
- Secular Organizations for Sobriety
- Women for Sobriety
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- SMART Recovery
- Drug Rehab Connections
Should you do what I did?
You must decide for yourself where you feel most comfortable. I knew that I had to take my safety first in becoming involved. The general public assisting in crime events is always a risk. We all have read of serious injury or death occurring to a right-minded, caring citizen who just wanted to help and see that justice was served. I continued to stay clear of the F250 driver. I never desired to confront him myself. I always had the shield and speed of my vehicle to give me an additional level of protection. Therefore, I thought that getting a tag number could go a long way in assisting the authorities in finding this vehicle and driver – especially if he had continued to drive away.
I have also made myself available to testify for the not at fault gentleman’s behalf if the event moves in that direction. I’m more than happy to be available to do that so justice can be served. One must consider that piece of this puzzle also when you step in to help.
Because of my insurance career history, I have a fraction more confidence in this arena – albeit right or wrong – to help because I’ve seen this situation in my work all too many times especially with DUI events. So, I know the routine and what is needed. You might not have that level of experience and would need to reconsider your participation.
Don’t Drive Drunk!
We have all heard it hundreds of time but still, so many people continue to think – they are different, and their inebriated state isn’t bad enough to warrant them calling someone to take them home. We so need to change that attitude and action.
Please don’t miss that fact that this occurred at 12noon on a Saturday. The middle of the day – not 2AM in the morning!!! The risk is real – anytime!
I hope this gives you some first-hand, eyewitness insight that will help you to pay more attention, to drive responsibly yourself and be aware of your surroundings as you drive anywhere at any time. Your life or death as well as others is in your hands on that steering wheel!
If we can help you with ANY insurance needs, we’re here and ready to “earn” your trust. TEXT or CALL US at 615.377.1212 or EMAIL us at info@BentonWhite.com.