You may have seen signs on the road asking you to call 9-1-1 to report impaired drivers, or the following image tweeted out by Ottawa Police asking us to “Report aggressive driving.”:
There’s one major flaw that the signs and poster don’t warn you about. You need to have a description of the driver. Trying to get that description could put you in danger. Here are all the requirements to report an aggressive driver.
I first mentioned this problem here when describing my one and only attempt to report aggressive driving.
To get a description of the driver you may need to drive up alongside them, take your eyes off the road, and hope their window isn’t tinted so dark that you can actually make out who’s driving. I’m sure an aggressive driver would just love to see you try that, especially on a two-lane road with oncoming traffic. Would you want to drive alongside a car that’s weaving all over the road because they’re impaired? Not me.
Now, as the only person in the car, you have to call the police to make a report. For safety reasons, and because it’s against the law to call while driving, you have to pull over to make the complaint and you will lose sight of the vehicle. With only a plate number and vehicle description to report, your complaint will be ignored.
It’s a noble goal to report aggressive or impaired drivers. If you have a passenger in the car that can call police and you’re willing to follow the driver until the police respond and the driver isn’t driving at the speed of sound, then sure, make the report. If not, then unless you get a description of the driver, the police won’t do anything as I found out first hand.
I hope this post helps you manage your expectations.