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Why you don’t talk to media at the scene of an accident


“It’s my luck that this would happen to me.” Those were the words American driver Ray Dillow, 51, reportedly said to media following an accident at a shipper’s yard in which a Canadian driver lost his life on Nov. 30. You can bet it won’t be the last time he hears those words. And there’s a very good chance that a judge and jury in a civil courtroom will hear them as well. Those simple words may very well haunt Dillow as profoundly as the accident itself.
Insurance companies have often instructed their trucking company clients to advise drivers never to speak to media at the scene of an accident, and Dillow’s remarks are precisely the reason. He was no doubt in shock, having reportedly struck and killed a Canadian truck driver just moments earlier in a crowded yard.
A Canadian driver is dead; never to return home to his family and according to media reports, the dog that was found in his cab is now in the care of the local dog warden, a painful little detail that really hits home.
Dillow’s comment, as cold as it may sound, was likely innocent enough. Perhaps he’s not to blame for the incident and maybe the severity of it had not yet hit home when he made the remark. Maybe he didn’t even know the Canadian driver had succumbed to his injuries. Even so, he will receive little empathy in a US courtroom should a civil lawsuit be initiated. You can’t take those words back. You can’t take any words back when spoken in the presence of media, which is why it’s best to say nothing at all in the immediate aftermath of an accident. It’s a point insurance companies will continue to emphasize but one that is clearly easily forgotten in the heat of the moment.
My heart goes out to the family of the Canadian driver who lost his life on the job Nov. 30. The investigation will run its course and blame will be assigned. Deserved or not, the target on Dillow’s back grew exponentially when he spoke those nine simple words.


James Menzies

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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5 Comments » for Why you don’t talk to media at the scene of an accident
  1. Kevin Snobel says:

    James that we preach to every driver. NEVER ADMIT ANYTHING DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE EXCEPT THE POLICE. However tyhe most important thing take pictures of the accident scene damage, location etc. NEVER NEVEWR NEVER take pictures of people especially ones injured. In court this is interpreted as callous and an I DON’T CARE ATTITUDE.

  2. Martin Cowie says:

    Kevin. If it is a catastrophic incident, I inform the driver not to talk to police. Let the Police do their job and investigate the incident. Call someone from your Insurance company, a Lawyer or your Safety Department. Do not make out a drivers report either. Should a Lawyer want to lay a law suit against the company, the company has to hand over everything that is related to the incident (pictures, reports …etc). A good Lawyer can turn any written statement around to make it look as though the driver was at fault.I do agree with the pictures. No blood, no injured people or pictures of people.

  3. James: An excellent piece. I put it to the test by contacting a Transportation lawyer. Martin Cowie is correct. It is this kind of experience that makes this sight a very useful resource.
    Mark Borkowski

  4. Mesa Injury says:

    Words should always be spoken with care. Especially when it is recorded. My deepest condolences to the driver. May his soul rest in peace.

  5. Andi Smidth says:

    Everyday, we always say things that we do not really mean. With the presence of a camera, I think one should always be careful. My condolences to the family of the victim. I hope a visit to http://www.deathletters.org would help them somewhat ease the pain the bit as it did the same for me.

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