What to Do When You Suspect Another Driver is Having a Medical Emergency

Witnessing a driver having a medical emergency behind the wheel, whether a sudden seizure or apparent loss of consciousness, can be a deeply alarming experience. Quick thinking and timely action are crucial for the safety of the affected driver and others on the road.

Knowing what to do if you suspect someone is facing a medical crisis while driving can help you act responsibly and effectively in this critical situation.

  1. Recognize the Signs

When driving on Missouri roads, keep your eyes open for any abnormal or potentially dangerous behaviors from other drivers. Spotting the signs of a medical emergency early on can help in timely intervention and prevent accidents.

Some signs of a medical emergency include:

  • Erratic driving: Sudden acceleration or braking could point to issues like a seizure or a diabetic episode.
  • Swerving: Veering off course or drifting might be caused by vision problems or the onset of a stroke.
  • Unresponsiveness: Ignoring road signs or traffic lights may indicate conditions ranging from a heart attack to a mental health crisis.
  • Physical signs: Slumping over the steering wheel or appearing dazed can hint at a stroke or fainting spell.
  • Facial distress: Displaying pain or confusion, especially when seen at traffic stops, can be symptomatic of a heart attack or severe diabetic episode.
  1. Keep a Safe Distance

Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle you suspect is being driven by someone experiencing a medical emergency. Keeping a comfortable distance allows you enough reaction time to avoid a collision if the other driver suddenly brakes, swerves, or loses control of their vehicle.

This buffer zone protects you and can also help provide emergency responders with the space to approach and handle the situation when they arrive. Getting too close can escalate a precarious situation, so exercise caution and stay back.

  1. Assess the Situation and Surroundings

Before taking any action, quickly assess the driving conditions and surroundings. Take note of how busy the road is, the number of lanes, and whether there are any potential safe spots to pull over, should it become necessary.

Understanding your environment will help you manage the situation, whether deciding to slow down, switch lanes, or use your horn and lights to alert other drivers.

  1. Alert Other Drivers

Alerting other drivers about the situation is critical in preventing a more serious accident. Use your vehicle’s headlights, hazard lights, and even the horn to signal to those around you that something is amiss.

This can make other drivers more aware and cautious, reducing the likelihood of a multi-vehicle collision. Your signaling serves as an early warning system, encouraging other road users to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in distress.

  1. Call 911

As soon as it’s safe to do so, call 911. Provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible, including your current location, vehicle description, and details about the erratic driving you’ve witnessed.

Follow the instructions from the 911 operator carefully; they are trained to handle emergencies and will guide you through the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety.

  1. Pull Over Safely if Advised

The 911 operator may ask you to pull over to the side of the road under Missouri’s “steer it, clear it” law, especially if there’s been an accident. Use your turn signals to indicate your intentions and find a spot far enough from the flow of traffic — such as a shoulder or a parking lot — to minimize the risk of collision.

Ensure your vehicle is fully off the road and activate your hazard lights to signal to other drivers that you’ve stopped for an emergency. This creates a safer environment for you to wait for emergency services and allows first responders unobstructed access to the scene when they arrive.

  1. Wait for Emergency Services to Arrive

Once you’ve pulled over, wait for emergency services to arrive. Provide information, such as changes in the driver’s behavior or if they’ve stopped the car. Your observations can be crucial for medical personnel and law enforcement officers when they arrive.

  1. Provide a Statement

Once emergency services have arrived and taken control of the situation, you may be asked to provide a statement about what you witnessed. This account can be instrumental for medical professionals diagnosing the affected driver and law enforcement assessing the incident.

If the driver’s medical condition results in a collision with your vehicle, a police report can support any potential legal claims you make for compensation.

  1. Resume Driving Cautiously

Once the situation is under control and you have been cleared to leave by emergency services, resume driving cautiously. Be mindful that the experience may have left you a little shaken, so take a few moments to compose yourself before rejoining the traffic flow.

If you were involved in an accident with the driver, seek medical attention immediately. This helps you receive the necessary treatment for possible injuries and connects them to the crash.

While many medical emergencies are unavoidable, you may be able to seek a settlement from a driver if their actions or lack of preventive measures led to an accident or damage. Consulting with a legal expert can clarify your rights and potential legal recourse.

Navigate a Complex Situation with Care and Responsibility

Encountering a driver experiencing a medical emergency in Missouri can be a frightening experience. Following these steps can help ensure your safety and the safety of others and obtain prompt medical assistance for the affected driver.

If the driver’s medical emergency results in injury to you or your loved ones, speak to an auto accident attorney with Cofman Townsley. We can review the evidence from the police report, witness statements, and medical records to determine if you have a valid claim.

Contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation.