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Phantom Driver Explained: What You Should Know About Them

Donald Singleton
February 23, 2023

What is a Phantom Driver?

If you’ve ever been driving down a long stretch of deserted road at night, you may have been in situations where another vehicle shows up alongside or behind you without warning. As it turns out, this is a phenomenon that happens frequently enough to warrant a term for it. Motorists call these incidents phantom phenomenons. Contrary to their name, these are real occurrences featuring automobiles with their own drivers. There is some history here, and we will dive into it in various sections in our article below. We can also give some tips on what you can do if such a driver causes a collision or other problems for you.

What is a Phantom Driver Accident?

Phantom drivers may be real, but people and law firms use this term because they don’t leave evidence behind. Some accidents on the road involve only a single car. In some of these cases, the driver of said vehicle may be at fault for the incident. However, some of these motorists may have only gotten into a collision because of another car on the road. This second vehicle may have behaved in such an erratic manner that it spooked the first driver into an action that caused a problem. Should a driver run you off the road without causing direct damage to your car with their own, you might face a tough battle when it comes to gathering evidence and filing a claim. In short, an accident like doesn’t have witnesses or a lot of physical evidence for police to take into account following an investigation.

Examples of Accidents Caused By a Phantom Driver

One of the easiest examples of a phantom-like driver that you might imagine is swerving off the road to hit something else. If you imagine that you’re driving down a road without any cars in sight, you might understand what it is like to have another vehicle pull alongside you so suddenly that you don’t notice it. Further, if this motorist swerves too close to your lane, it may cause you to turn sharply in the other direction to avoid a potential collision. In doing so, you run off the road, possibly hitting a pole or post and causing damage to your own vehicle. In cases like the example above, the other driver is the root cause of the damage your car sustains. Unfortunately, because they might drive on with no damage to their own vehicle, no camera footage, and no witnesses, they then become a phantom. There is no concrete proof that you didn’t cause the issues with your automobile through inattention or some other issue. You can think of these phantom accidents as ones that involve no direct contact with another car or driver.

Who Is Responsible for Damages if the Phantom Driver Is at Fault?

In most cases, this driver would be responsible for restitution for damages. This is particularly true if they do not stop once they notice that their actions have caused someone else to damage their own vehicle. However, it is important to keep in mind that some drivers may continue driving onward and out of sight. Some of them may be trying to avoid paying for damages, but there are also drivers who genuinely do not realize that they’ve caused any problem for another car on the road. If you do something that causes you to behave erratically in your driving directly because of another driver’s actions, this person is at fault. The problem lies in getting identifying information. If you don’t have any such data to provide to the authorities, it can be hard for them to track down the offending vehicle or driver. However, if you are quick enough, you might be able to recall or record some details of the car or driver as the other vehicle leaves the scene.

What Should Be Done If a Phantom Driver Hits You?

These drivers will rarely make direct contact with your own vehicle. This is a big part of why we think of them as phantoms. A car that strikes yours and speeds away is one that police will typically call a standard hit-and-run. In phantom cases, another car doesn’t physically damage yours. While someone involved in a hit-and-run could also try to leave the scene, there is a greater chance that they might leave physical evidence behind. Similarly, they might take enough time to leave that you have a chance to gather some information. There are a few things like this that you can do if you find yourself involved with such a driver.

Call 911

Contact emergency services in your area to report the details of the collision as soon as you can. If you feel you sustained any serious injuries from the other driver, be sure to include this in your report to medical personnel. While finding the other driver is important, treating your own injuries is a must.

Write Down Any Details You Can Recall

It is possible that you had time to notice small details. The make or model of the car that caused you to crash, something about the driver, or license plate numbers. Any combination of details such as these can help police when it comes time to find the offending automobile and seek damages.

Take Pictures

It may not always be possible, but try to get some snapshots of the other vehicle if you can. With cameras on phones these days, you may have a quick way to snap a few shots. If you can, this would provide some verifiable evidence that other people can reference, and the photos could be more reliable than your memory in a stressful situation.

Find Witnesses

Many phantom incidents are difficult to resolve without any witnesses. Look around the scene to see if anyone else might have noticed anything that they can corroborate with your own experiences.

Contact Your Insurance Provider After an Accident

Most insurance companies prefer it if clients contact them about auto collisions within 24 hours of the event. After you get in touch with medical and police, make sure you tell your provider about the details of the case so that they can get started on the claim.

Connect With a Law Firm Specializing in Such Cases

Phantom drivers can be difficult for even the most accommodating insurance companies to deal with, and this is mostly due to the lack of evidence we’ve discussed already. To help your chances, it may be beneficial to get in touch with a qualified team of experts specializing in the laws surrounding such cases.


Unlike their namesake, phantom drivers are real beings who can pose risks to other drivers across the nation. It is always important to drive defensively, but this is especially true when another driver comes out of nowhere. Even if you do need to get off the road, it is better to keep yourself safe in these situations.
Donald Singleton

Donald Singleton


A Georgia native, Don founded Singleton Law Firm in 1999 as a continuation of his lifetime commitment to serving his state and community. He has concentrated his trial practice to representing victims of serious injury and wrongful death arising out of trucking, car, bus and motorcycle accidents, premises liability and a wide variety of other causes.

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