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Can you report reckless driving in Michigan?

November 14, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Yes you can.  Here’s who you need to call and what info you need to report reckless and overly aggressive drivers


A friend of mine called me the other day –  distraught and looking for answers. She was driving down I-696 to work in Southfield when she had a run-in with a reckless driver going about 95 mph, tailgating other drivers and passing cars with seemingly mere inches to spare. She was angry and shaken-up.

She wanted to know: Can you report reckless driving in Michigan? And if yes, who the heck should she call?

Who do you call to report a reckless or aggressive driver?

According to the Michigan State Police:

If you want to report a reckless driver, it’s best to call 9-1-1, and not the Michigan State Police or a specific police department.

As an attorney, I’ve litigated many serious car accident injury lawsuits caused by reckless driving. “Reckless” is a term that applies to so many different types of dangerous drivers. It goes for aggressive speeders, tailgaters, distracted drivers who text, and intoxicated or drugged drivers. While the consequences of these car and truck accidents are tragic, they’re even more so because many of the crashes could have been prevented if some common sense and good driving judgment was used.

And these crashes may have been avoided entirely if other drivers knew that they can report bad, dangerous, reckless and overly-aggressive driving.  I wrote about this issue several months back, when a group of five bicyclists were killed (and four others seriously injured) near Kalamazoo, MI.”

In that incident, law enforcement were actively looking for an erratic driver in a pickup truck who was reported minutes before the deadly car bicycle crashes, as they had received three separate calls from concerned citizens that the motorist was driving recklessly.  Kudos to the concerned citizens who reported the driver of the pickup truck, but sadly not in enough time.

I spoke with Sgt. Gene Aldrich of the Michigan State Police today for more information on what to do when you encounter reckless drivers — think the tailgaters and speeders we see all-too-often during our commutes or quick runs to the grocery store:

Q. How can one report a reckless driver?

A. If you wish to make a specific complaint against another driver, it’s best to call 9-1-1 with detailed information about the offending vehicle and driver. Be sure to indicate specific information such as the make/model of the vehicle, the tag number, the direction of travel and any other important details when making your report.

Calling 9-1-1 gets you to the closest dispatch center at time the dangerous driving or incidents are occurring. 9-1-1 can get you any emergency help, whether it’s police, fire or ambulance, road condition.

Q. What should someone do if they encounter a reckless driver?

A. Try to drive away from the driver, stay calm and dial 9-1-1 to report the driver.

Q. So given it’s best to call 9-1-1, tell me who not to call when encountering a reckless driver?

A. Again, calling 9-1-1 gets you to the closest dispatch center at time the dangerous driving or incidents are occurring. Calling 9-1-1 can get you any emergency help, whether it’s police, fire or ambulance. If you first call your local police department or the Michigan State Police, that adds an extra layer of timing to get you the help you need and to find that reckless driver, because they then have to get you to call 9-1-1.

Q. Do you think law enforcement and 9-1-1 receive many calls about reckless drivers?

A. The biggest problem is people are hesitant to dial 9-1-1 whether it’s a reckless driver, debris or road rage because they think it’s for emergencies only. They often call the Michigan State Police and we have to convince them to call 9-1-1.

We stress that reckless drivers are an emergency because they can cause a deadly car accident, and we want to prevent them. A couple weeks ago, people were dodging a couch in the middle of the freeway and calling us.

Too often, people wait until they get home to call and then it’s too late to find the reckless drivers.

Q. Does tailgating count as reckless driving?

A. Yes. But keep in mind, if you’re in the left lane and someone is tailgating, you might both be in the wrong because according to the Michigan Speed Law, you need to get over to the right lane and let the driver behind you pass to keep traffic flowing.

Related info:

Road rage: What to do if you’re faced with an aggressive driver

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