A growing number of motorists are phoning 9-1-1 to report other drivers who pose a hazard or a headache on the road. “Mo” Warford is a regional manager for Iowa State Patrol communications who spends a couple days a week at various call centers. Reached on the road, Warford said while the operators expect calls for help, they also take 911 calls from drivers complaining about other motorists. “Yes, we do,” she says. With a little bit of common sense, the communications centers encourage drivers to call in anything along the road that looks suspicious or dangerous. While cellphones aren’t a tool to get people in trouble, Warford says if you’re in doubt it’s best to report dangerous or erratic driving, or other things that are suspicious. They’ve had reports of a child holding up a sign that says something like “Help me.” She says you sometimes can’t tell if that weaving driver really is drunk or impaired — or if the child isn’t just playing around and really has been abducted. She says you try and stay aware of your location, in case you should have a sudden mishap, or see something you want to report to authorities. There’s also the problem of accidentally pushing those buttons, which can happen to any cellphone owner. On many phones, pressing any button continuously for several seconds will cause it to automatically dial 9-1-1. A driver may toss the phone into a purse, or have their seatbelt pressing on it, and they may not even know it’s called the local emergency communications center, tying up a line there. Warford oversees State Patrol dispatch centers in central, south-central, west and southwest Iowa and spends a couple days every week on the road managing their operations.
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