Why you don’t talk to media at the scene of an accident
November 30, 2010
November 30, 2010
“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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies