The purpose of this page is to bring together articles pertaining to traffic patrol and highway patrol duties so that diverse skills, techniques, tips and humor may be passed on, and the need to “re-invent the wheel” is minimized.
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Relevant or Amusing News Items
(Some of these articles will also appear on our International Road Safety News page)
December 7, 2005: Safety Message Gets Through to Drivers
It seems people are paying attention to the fact those uniquely marked police vehicles around the region could show up anytime, anywhere.
Numbers released on ICBC’s Community Crash Reduction Challenge last week proved that people were more conscious of their driving habits during the month of October in the Capital Region and around the province.
In the Capital Region, the actual numbers were significantly lower than ICBC p\redicted. The 1,485 crashes were more than 500 fewer than the predicted 2,019, or 26.4 per cent.
“What that shows us is if we do the enforcement and we have the visibility on a continual, day-to-day basis, that we are able to make an impact on drivers,” said Sgt. Del Manak of the Integrated Road Safety Unit, which has been patrolling the region’s highways and monitoring traffic around high crash locations for more than a year. “If it reduces crashes, it reduces the impact on our communities.”
Full story, from the Saanich News, BC
November 15, 2005: Fatal Crashes Drop Under PA State Police Program
An innovative Pennsylvania State Police traffic safety program that blends technology and targeted enforcement has earned national recognition for reducing crashes and saving lives, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today.
Governor Rendell said the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration presented a 2005 National Roadway Safety Award to the Pennsylvania State Police for its Problem Specific Policing/PROphecy program. Pennsylvania was one of only nine states recognized nationwide, he said.
“Pennsylvania is using this program to save lives,” Governor Rendell said. “It has helped State Police cut fatal crashes by a remarkable 7 percent between 2002 and 2004. State Police commanders are using this computer software to quickly identify problem areas and deploy troopers to target dangerous driving behaviors. The result is fewer fatal crashes.”
State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said that under the Problem Specific Policing approach, troopers use the global positioning systems in their vehicles and a computer software application called PROphecy to map and categorize traffic crashes.
“The maps pinpoint trouble spots by time, day of the week and location,” he said. “The data helps our commanders assign personnel when and where they are needed. Also, troopers hit the roads knowing what driving behaviors – such as speeding, drunken driving or tailgating – are causing the problems.”
Miller said State Police began using the PROphecy program in May 2003 and the number of fatal crashes investigated by State Police dropped from 744 in 2002 to 689 in 2004….
[Source: Pennsylvania Office of the Governor]
October 13, 2005: Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy Class Reduced To 50 Cadets
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy’s class is down to just 50 cadets after testing and background checks eliminated hundreds of people who applied.
The patrol is short 94 troopers and hasn’t had an academy in the past three years because of statewide budget cuts, but has two academies this fiscal year, including one that began in August.
There were 872 applications and 627 applicants were scheduled for testing. Of those, 365 showed up and 228 passed, but after background checks and interviews the number was cut to 65.
Now just 50 remain.
Lieutenant Pete Norwood says the academy is similar to a military boot camp and cadets are put through as much mental stress as physical stress.
October 5, 2005: Good Reason for all Police Forces to Have a Contingency Plan
CHP resorts to index cards when computers go down
SAN DIEGO – A problem with the California Highway Patrol’s computer system Wednesday morning forced dispatchers to use 3-by-5 index cards to track emergency calls reporting traffic accidents and requesting service.
The glitch, which began shortly after 7 a.m., affected the computer-aided dispatch system in the traffic management center in Clairemont, said CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt.
“We are back to pre-computer time dispatching,” he said.
“I’m not sure if the entire state has gone down or not,” Bettencourt said. “As of right now, we are operating with nothing here.”
As of 10:30 a.m., the computers were still down….
Full story, from SignOnSanDiego
September 30, 2005: Good Recognition of the Value of State Troopers [DSA title]
…….Budget cuts between 2000 and 2004 have reduced the number of [state troopers in Oregon] by 36 percent, according to statistics reported Wednesday in The Register-Guard.
Meanwhile, speeding citations have dropped 29 percent, driving complaints have increased 70 percent and crash complaints have increased 32 percent.
Speeding may not sound like a serious offense. Yet it’s a factor in about one-third of motor vehicle fatalities, according to 2003 information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
By contrast, alcohol was the sole cause of 25 percent of traffic fatalities in Oregon in 2003, according to The Associated Press.
The risks of speeding are even greater for people in their first few years of college. About 33 percent of males and about 19 percent of females ages 21 to 24 involved in fatal crashes were speeding, according to the NHTSA….
The solution to increased speeding is two-fold. Foremost, drivers must understand the risks of speeding and slow down.
Oregon’s Legislature must also find ways to prioritize funding for public safety, specifically putting more troopers back on the roads….
Full article (‘Pedal to the metal for public safety’), from the Oregon Daily Emerald
July 15, 2005: Loophole Found in Cayman Islands Drunk Driving Law
An oversight in the Traffic Law may allow numerous convictions for drunk driving to be reversed. In a recent case, the crown lost its prosecution against an expatriate male in his early 30’s for drunk driving…..
DSA Comments This article has been included here in the hope that it may prompt people in other national and regional jurisdictions to double-check that their relevant ‘breath, blood or urine’ legislation will not permit another lapse in justice in this manner.
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.
July 9, 2005: Yet Another Police Officer has been Killed by a Passing Vehicle During a Traffic Stop
Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Larkins was killed yesterday in a roadside incident.
Ironically, an article about his good deeds, helping a stranded family on July 4, appeared in yesterday’s Dickson Herald — the day Larkins died when he was struck by a tractor-trailer as he stood beside his parked patrol car during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 in Dickson County….
The driver of the tractor-trailer…. was charged last night with vehicular homicide and was being held without bond in the Dickson County Jail, a sheriff’s spokesman said.
THP Col. Lynn Pitts said a recent state law directing motorists to move away from the emergency lane when possible to avoid emergency vehicles “for some reason didn’t happen here. It (the truck) went from the driving lane to the emergency lane instead.”
The new law followed a similar incident last year involving Metro Police Officer Christy Dedman, who was killed when she was struck while helping a stranded motorist along I-40 on the east side of Nashville.
Among other, close family members, Trooper Larkins is survived by his wife, Alicia, and his 12-year-old daughter, Carina.
Full article, from The Dickson Herald, via The Tennessean
July 3, 2005: Russian Traffic Policemen Mark Their Professional Holiday
MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) — Traffic policemen are marking their professional holiday on Sunday. They will go to work in formal military [uniform?] on the day when the 69th anniversary of Russian traffic police is marked. However, despite of the festive mood traffic policemen will still be strict to drivers who violate the traffic rules.
At present about 118,500 officials work in traffic police, and about 60,000 traffic inspectors ensure security on Russian roads round-the-clock.
However, the work of traffic policemen is not only difficult, but also dangerous. About 230 traffic policemen were killed and more than 650 were wounded when performing their [official] duties in 2004 alone, the traffic security department of the Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass.
Drunken drivers often knock down duty inspectors on the roads. They also fall victims of car hijackers….
Full story here, from ITAR/TASS
June 14, 2005: Pennsylvania State Police Not Making Traffic Stops Based on Race or Ethnicity
The second year of a study of traffic stops made by Pennsylvania State Police concludes that “there continues to be no consistent evidence that Pennsylvania State Troopers make stopping decisions based on drivers’ race and/or ethnicity.”
The conclusion is included in the Police Citizen Contacts Year Two Final Report released today by State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller. The independent study was conducted by Dr. Robin S. Engel of the University of Cincinnati and a team of researchers at the request of State Police. The report is available to the public online through the Pennsylvania State Police Web site at http://www.psp.state.pa.us/
“The study was implemented voluntarily by State Police to ensure that troopers are following the department’s policy specifically prohibiting bias-based policing,” Miller said.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of State Police
DSA Comments In many developed countries this issue is clearly a minefield for the police.
As conscious as every reasonable person should be about the dreadful and unacceptable implications of racism, it is also an inescapable fact that racial-minority population groups are also frequently less wealthy as a group.
In terms of vehicle safety and road safety, any experienced traffic patrol officer will tell you that poorer people, for obvious reasons, will often use badly maintained vehicles, perhaps with inoperative lights, worn tires, failing brakes, and quite possibly no insurance.
So how, then, do law enforcement officers reconcile the possibility of racial accusations made against them, with the extremely desirable task of preventing road deaths by enforcing safety laws?
Is there an answer? If there is, we do not pretend to know it.
But surely racial issues must not be put before true road safety issues, just as road safety issues should not overwhelm racial issues, either.
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.
May 28, 2005: A Lighthearted Moment from Bulgaria
A juggler, driving to his next performance, is stopped by the police.
“What are those machetes doing in your car?” asks the cop.
“I juggle them in my act.”
“Oh, yeah?” says the doubtful cop. “Let’s see you do it.”
The juggler gets out and starts tossing and catching the knives, and another man driving by slows down to watch.
“Wow,” says the passer-by. “I’m glad I quit drinking. Look at the test they’re giving now!”
Sofia News Agency
and ALL May 17, 2005: Safety Belts in Police Cars may be Life Threatening
VTI was contacted by the National Police Board of Sweden in the course of an internal investigation of a traffic accident in which a policewoman was killed. Even though there was nothing about this accident which specifically indicated that the equipment which the police carry on their uniform directly caused the tragic outcome of the accident, it gave the impetus for an investigation whether any of the many items of equipment carried on the uniform entails a risk, and whether appropriate measures might also be identified to change or reduce the risks. It was therefore decided to study the working environment of the police in police cars, by performing two collision tests….
May 14, 2005: Police Pursuit Cars Fitted with ‘Black Boxes’
U.K. police pursuit cars would be fitted with airplane-style ‘black boxes’ to help determine what happens when car chases end in death or accident under a proposal by the Police Federation.
The recorders would also improve public safety by helping the police learn what happened during pursuit accidents.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Police Federation’s annual conference next week, chairman Jan Berry said that only one third of police pursuit vehicles had a black box installed.
The Metropolitan Police had led the way in having them installed, but overall she said the police’s use of them was “patchy”.
Black boxes recorded the speed the car was travelling at, whether it had its siren and lights on, and whether the driver had braked before the accident, Ms Berry said.
Data from black boxes had already been used to prove and disprove claims about accidents made by both the police and the public: for example, if a bystander estimated that a police car was travelling at 30mph, the black box might show it was really travelling at 52mph.
Ms Berry told reporters: “When you have an accident, the type of data you get from black boxes is immense.”
She said the Police Federation wanted them installed in pursuit vehicles but not in all police cars because that would be “extremely” costly and that much money could be spent on more important safety features.
[Source: The Police Federation of England and Wales]
May 6, 2005: The Majority of Minnesota Police Officers Killed Since 1999 have Died in Traffic Incidents
1999: Jason Meyer, Grand Meadow police officer; crashed while on his way to help another officer.
2000: Theodore Foss, State Patrol corporal; struck by semi trailer truck during a traffic stop on Interstate Hwy. 90.
2002: Melissa Schmidt, Minneapolis police officer; shot while detaining suspect.
Bradley Alan Anderson, St. Louis County sheriff’s deputy, killed in a car accident responding to a call.
Michael Lee, Staples Chippewa National Forest law enforcement officer, died when his car hit a deer.
2004: Thomas Wyatt, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent; motor vehicle accident while on duty.
[Note: during this period, two other officers died of illness or long-term injury complications.]
Full article, from the Star Tribune
DSA Comments Our condolences go the families of all police and other law enforcement officers who are killed in the line of duty, worldwide.
The reason we have posted this extract, however, is to draw attention to what we consider to be two rather neglected aspects of officer safety, here in the USA and that, of course, is road incidents:
1. At DSA, we have been assured that the reason many officers on highway patrol duties do not wear highly-reflective safety jackets like those used in many other countries is the fear that these simply give a gunman a better target at which to aim. But surely one needs to consider the ratio of danger. How many times in a typical day does a patrol officer stand on the driver’s side of a vehicle, on the roadside? And assuming that the driver who has been stopped is maliciously carrying a gun, do they reallyneed the addition of a reflective jacket to help them aim better at virtually point-blank range?
But what about all those cars and trucks that continue to barrel past, too close and too fast?
2. U.S. law enforcement officers deserve better driver training than they currently get. The only police driver courses we are aware of in America last from two to five days, but in some other countries — where the rates of officer deaths in crashes are lower — police driver training can last several weeks.
If U.S. law enforcement officers protect the country, surely the country could do more to protect its officers!
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc. (and a former police officer).
April 28, 2005: Community Policing and Road Safety
In Britain, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety published a new briefing entitled ‘Community policing and road safety’ to coincide with PACTS’ conference ‘Letting People in on the Act, on 15 February 2005. The briefing explores the implications of the move towards community-based policing approaches for road safety, and examines situations in which conflict may emerge. However, the briefing argues that far from being incompatible, efforts to involve the community may make roads policing more effective.
April 7, 2005: Policing Road Risk
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety’s research project on ‘New Technologies, Road Traffic Enforcement and Road Safety’ has been progressing rapidly, and publication is expected in October 2005. A paper entitled ‘Policing Road Risk’, which summarises some of the emerging issues and themes of the project, was delivered at the RoSPA Road Safety Congress 2005 last month and is now available for download on PACTS’ website. Comments would be welcome.
March 30, 2005: Shanghai Traffic Police get High-Tech Backup
Thirty new high-tech police cars and 170 motorcycles began patrolling city streets yesterday, providing local lawmen with better [tools] to track down traffic violators….
The city spent about 16 million yuan (US$1.93 million) on the new vehicles….
The 30 new four wheelers, also known as the “electronic patrol cars,” are equipped with a radar speedometer and a powerful camera connected to a computer system inside the vehicle.
The camera can shoot pictures or take videos from any angle and swerve as rapidly as 100 degrees per second.
The agile camera, together with the radar speedometer, will work automatically in shooting various images of traffic infractions, such as speeding and illegally cutting lanes. The images could provide vivid clues to support future punishment of drivers.
The vehicles also carry an automatic car plate identification system. After shooting pictures of a vehicle, the computer will compare its plate number to its database containing reported stolen and illegal cars. The function is expected to assist police in catching hit-and-run drivers and illegal vehicles.
All pictures taken are then stored on a computer disk and turned in to the police headquarters at the end of a shift….
Full story, from Xinhuanet.
March 24, 2005: Police Track Suspects by Road Cameras
Police in England are setting up a national network of more than 2,000 cameras on motorways and in city centres to track down suspects on the move.
Computers linked to the cameras automatically read number plates, check them against national files and alert police if the driver is wanted or a suspect. Fines for traffic breaches such as driving without insurance or tax will be used to fund development of the system, chief constables said yesterday.
Over the next three years the computer links, known as the automatic number-plate recognition system (ANPR), will be added to the cameras on gantries watching motorway traffic and main routes.1 Police are also going to add the links to closed-circuit systems operated by local authorities to monitor urban main roads. On the Dartford crossing over the Thames, for example, there will be 28 cameras and links watching every lane. Overall, police expect to have several thousand links by 2008.
The computer links interrogate 12 different databases and alert police control rooms within seconds that a vehicle should be stopped or monitored.
The system can check up to 3,000 number plates per hour, per lane, even at speeds of up to 100mph.
The computer checks national data on whether a car is stolen, if the driver has insurance or paid motor tax, whether there is a warrant for his arrest or if detectives are interested in his movements.
Source: The Times
1 The existing cameras are used to monitor traffic congestion.
March 23, 2005: Road Safety Goes Hi-Tech in South Africa, in Time for Easter
Arrive Alive and the transport department have turned to technology to minimise road accidents this Easter. The campaign is set to cost the department R6.29 million [US $1.02 million].
Transport minister Jeff Radebe says road fatalities increased from 12,348 in 2003 to 12,709 last year.
As part of this year’s campaign, traffic police cars countrywide have been fitted with video cameras, tracking systems, breathalysers and scanners. These scanners will read the barcode on licence disks and drivers’ licences and feed the information to the National Traffic Information System.
The department has identified the 86 most hazardous sections of road countrywide, covering a combined distance of 10,730km.
Eighty patrol cars have been set up to guard the traffic at these points, of which 18 will be shared between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal….
Full story, from ITweb
March 18, 2005: Colorado State Patrol has Long History
MONTROSE – It began as a courtesy service to motorists when the automobile was largely a novelty. These days, the Colorado State Patrol still ranks courtesy as a priority, but its duties and responsibilities have expanded to meet the increased traffic flow and the laws governing driving.
The CSP, to put it simply, is in charge of enforcing all laws on Colorado’s highways and at extreme personal risk to the troopers who’ve hit the road for a career.
“We predominately work traffic, covering accidents outside of municipalities. Our focus is primarily on traffic-related issues,” CSP Cpt. Clark Bates, who heads Troop 5C in Montrose, Delta and Gunnison, said.
But it’s a mistake to think of the trooper (or any other officer) as a glorified “traffic cop,” because CSP officers do much more than hand out tickets. “If we get involved in something based on traffic – a felony or something – we do handle it,” Bates said. “Anything that comes out of traffic, we will handle. Most of your crimes, a vehicle is involved in some way. We do make a lot of felony arrests based off of traffic stops.”
Full article, from the Montrose Daily Press
and just to make the point regarding state troopers detecting felonies….
March 18, 2005: Million Dollar Drugs Cargo Seized
The Nebraska State Patrol seized $1 million worth of cocaine Thursday afternoon during a traffic stop on Interstate 80 near Grand Island….
The driver gave the trooper permission to search the vehicle. An NSP K-9’s nose led to 45 pounds of cocaine packaged in 18 heat-wrapped cellophane packages in the vehicle’s gas tank….
Full story, from WOWT
March 16, 2005: Police Defend the Use of a Plane for Road Patrol
Police are defending using a $220 per hour airplane to spot dangerous drivers, despite only catching two drivers during the flight….
The tactic led to two drivers being fined $150 each for slow driving….
Tasman District Highway Patrol team leader Eric Davy defended the use of the plane, despite catching only two drivers for “impeding the flow of traffic”.
Holding traffic up by not allowing it to pass was an offence police regarded as seriously as speeding, he said.
“It leads to people acting stupidly to get past them. They will overtake them when it’s imprudent to do so, and that’s why you have head-on crashes.”…
“You’ve got to look at the amount of money we spend on road traffic enforcement in relation to how many lives we save, and this is just one tool of ours … It’s part of police presence and it’s part of a whole strategy in reducing road trauma.”…
Full story, from The New Zealand Herald
DSA Comments: Hmmmm… It is tempting to suggest that when the New Zealand police start telling journalists how to write articles, that is when journalists should tell the police how to do their job.
If we examine the opposite extreme to the above scenario and hypothesize that the plane had stayed on the ground, and that during the relevant time period there had been a fatal crash, I suspect that the media would then have been screaming for police blood and demanding to know why more steps were not being taken to prevent fatalities.
Journalistic dual standards. And little more than contemptible.
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.
and ALL March 14, 2005: Fallacy Often Prevails in the World of Crash Reporting
Two completely separate media reports within the past 24 hours, from the USA and Australia respectively, highlight the fact that speculation and inaccurate comments play an excessively large part in undermining road safety standards.
First, from America, came a story about a man who died when his car ran off the road on a curve and overturned and police officers at the scene said the man had probably fallen asleep at the wheel….
The second story, from Australia, concerned the case of a well liked and respected lady who was killed when “her car failed to negotiate a curve and veered off the road and into [a] river.”
In both of these cases, one must ask: Oh, really?
March 8, 2005: Speed Camera Detectors may be made Illegal
Radar detectors that warn motorists they are approaching speed cameras could be banned under proposals going before Parliament.
A ban, if passed in the Road Safety Bill, could come into force next year.
The devices, used by thousands of motorists, emit a warning sound when approaching a camera which is working. In other words, the detectors distinguish between working cameras and decoys which are in position simply to encourage drivers to slow down.
The detectors cost around £200 and fix on to car dashboards. Manufacturers say they improve safety by warning drivers of speed limits. The detectors also alert motorists to mobile speed traps run by police.
The Road Safety Bill is aimed at meeting targets to reduce road deaths.
It also proposes flexible speeding fines which would distinguish between those travelling a couple of miles over the speed limit in a non-residential area away from schools and other dangers, and those travelling at high speeds or in sensitive areas.
The penalty for using a mobile phone could increase from £30 to £60 and three licence endorsement points under the bill.
It would also allow courts to force the worst drink-drivers to retake their driving tests….
Ministers want to cut the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents by 40%, and by half for children, by 2010….
Full article, from the BBC
DSA Comments: Manufacturers’ claims, above, that their detectors “improve safety” is, in our opinion, offensive.
What they are surely saying is that they don’t want their profits to be affected, irrespective of how many children may eventually be run over and killed as a direct result of smart alecs with radar detectors thinking they can get away with speeding until their law-defeating gadgets beep a warning.
And given that the British police have always had the power to report (i.e. cite) people for flashing their headlights to warn other drivers of a radar speed check ahead, what on earth is the possible difference between that type of illegal driver- to-driver warning and an electronic warning?
(The relevant offence, in the case of manned radar speed checks — incidentally — is worded to the effect of “interfering with a police officer in the lawful execution of his/her duties.”)
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.
March 8, 2005: Shanghai Police Restructured
BEIJING, Mar. 8 — On February 28, Shanghai furthered the restructure of its law enforcement provision with the separation of traffic and patrolling police….
Chen Fukuan, director of the political office of Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau, said traffic police will enforce the Road Traffic Security Law, reduce traffic jams and prevent traffic accidents whilst patrolling police will maintain security and crime prevention on the streets, though there would still be some flexibility and overlap where necessary….
At the same time, better-equipped patrol cars with GPS will be used….
Full story, from Xinhuanet
March 7, 2005: Police Pursuits in California — a Deadly Toll of Innocent Lives
SACRAMENTO – On any given day in California, a television station helicopter hovers over a speeding car that pinballs through traffic on the freeway below with police cars in hot pursuit.
More and more often, however, this staple of television news and police procedure has brought death and serious injuries. According to the California Highway Patrol, the number of chases has grown by the hundreds each of the last three years for which statistics are available: 5,895 in 2001; 6,337 in 2002; 7,171 in 2003.
Fifty-one people died in 2003 as a result, or nearly one each week. Of the dead, 18 were not involved in the pursuit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration….
California’s numbers consistently far exceed any other state. Compared to the 51 California deaths in 2003, Texas had 33, including nine innocents; North Carolina reported 23 deaths, eight of them uninvolved motorists; and Florida had 21 deaths, just one of an innocent motorist.
While some cities including Los Angeles have limited chases, Florida and Mississippi last year enacted laws boosting penalties for fleeing drivers, similar to what California law enforcement is now proposing this year as the Legislature is set to start again attempts to change the way law enforcement pursue potential criminals.
Law enforcement groups want to increase penalties for fleeing drivers, while a bipartisan group of legislators is pushing a proposal that would include penalties for police who recklessly pursue drivers….
Full story, from the Times-Herald
March 4, 2005: Traffic Police Officer Shot Dead in Moscow
Two men apparently masquerading as police officers shot dead a traffic police officer after being flagged down for a document check in central Moscow, police said Thursday….
[After pursuing the SUV, that had failed to stop] Police Officer Dmitry Zhuchkov approached the driver, who was wearing a police uniform, [then] a passenger in a police uniform got out and shot him five times in the back, killing him on the spot, city prosecutor’s office spokesman Sergei Marchenko said.
Witnesses spotted a third man handcuffed inside the Mitsubishi, an indication that he may have been the owner of the car and the victim of a carjacking, Gazeta.ru reported….
Police spokesman Pavel Klimovsky said the city police usually received one or two reports per month of people impersonating police officers in attempts to scam people out of money….
Klimovsky said police uniforms have become increasingly easy to obtain, with a number of stores offering them for sale….
Full story, from The Moscow Times
and ALL COUNTRIES March 3, 2005: Police Deeds Leave a Lot to be Desired
[From a letter to the Daily News]
….taxis are now in the habit of stopping to load and offload passengers slap bang in the middle of traffic circles (i.e. rotaries or roundabouts).
A more dangerous location could not be found if we tried.
On two recent occasions I narrowly missed ploughing into the back of a taxi stopped in a traffic circle.
More frustrating was seeing a “Metro Traffic Police” car pass by a taxi while it offloaded passengers in a traffic circle.
Come on KZN police, what happened to your “zero tolerance for traffic offenders” slogan?
[From] Concerned Derek, of Mt Edgecombe.
DSA Comments: We have two reasons for including this letter in the DSA news files.
Firstly, as “Concerned Derek” states, it is annoying to see police officers neglect to do their job, especially where public safety is so clearly involved..
Secondly, we are using this as an opportunity to once again comment on an even worse situation, and that is where officers in marked police vehicles deliberately flout traffic laws with impunity, simply because they can. We are not referring to emergency situations where — for example — speed limits may need to be broken; we are referring to making illegal turns or crossing solid center lines or any other transgression that is not called for.
People constantly refer to the “E’s” of road safety — primarily Engineering, Enforcement and Education — but “Example” should be included, too, because if police drivers can’t set an impeccable example then they cannot expect other drivers to maintain safe standards either.
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.
January 31, 2005: Accident surge means vicious circle for California’s traffic cops
SACRAMENTO – A steady increase in traffic accidents is straining the California Highway Patrol, the Legislature’s watchdog said Monday, creating a vicious circle: Officers spend more time responding to crashes and less time trying to prevent them, so the number of accidents keeps increasing.
Changing accident reporting policies and using more civilian employees would free more sworn officers for patrol duties, the legislative analyst’s office recommended….
The analyst found the officers are handling 52,000 more accidents annually than they were a decade ago, with total crashes now topping 230,000 a year….
Full article here, from Sign-On San Diego
January 5, 2005: California Highway Patrol Bring a New Year Surprise to DUI Court Evaders [DSA]
Nineteen motorists who ignored court appearances for drinking-related offenses over the past year ushered in the new year in an unexpected place — jail!
A New Year’s Eve swoop jailed 19 drivers who had skipped their court dates.
California Highway Patrol officers knocked on the doors of their homes Friday morning and afternoon, put them in handcuffs and led them off to jail.
The idea behind the New Year’s Eve roundup was to find people with a history of drunken driving arrests and to get them off the road before the biggest party night of the year, said Lt. Deb Schroder of the CHP’s Valley Division, which covers the Sacramento region.
“If one of these 19 arrests saved a life on New Year’s Eve, then it was worth doing this program,” Schroder said. “New Year’s Eve is traditionally one of the highest periods of the year in which we get fatalities because people are involved in drinking or drugged driving.”
Many of those arrested were surprised or angry about the warrants being served, Schroder said….
Full story, from The Sacramento Bee
DSA Comments: To put it very mildly, all bereaved relatives whose loved ones have been killed by the selfish stupidity of drunk drivers are [quote] “surprised and angry,” too, so the staff at DSA will use this as an opportunity to congratulate the CHP and thank police and other law-enforcement officers of integrity, all over the world, for the work they do in helping to make roads safer. We wish you a safe and happy New Year, ladies and gentlemen.
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.
January 4, 2005: Risky Business as Officers Step Out onto the Roads
Highway patrol officers are stepping back on the road to flag down speeding drivers, despite a court ruling that the police action is “enormously risky”.
This follows a decision that police had breached health and safety rules when a highway patrol officer, Sergeant Mark Wayne Johnson, was hit by a car and badly injured during a radar blitz in May 2000.
For two months after the ruling by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission last May police scaled back speed blitz operations by 90,000 as officers were ordered not to step onto the road when trying to flag down motorists.
But yesterday the Traffic Services Commander, Chief Superintendent John Hartley, admitted that after two months police decided stepping onto the road was the only way to stop drivers. While some new procedures and training were introduced after the accident, traffic police could not avoid stepping onto the road, he said.
He also said police were appealing against the commission’s decision, and the $150,000 fine imposed just before Christmas….
Chief Superintendent Hartley said police had a good safety record, given that more than 30million speed tickets had been issued by officers. This was the first such case before the commission.
Police had also been unable to predict that [the driver concerned] would deliberately hit Sergeant Johnson. Gregory Paul Dalton [who was driving an unregistered and uninsured car when the officer tried to pull him over for speeding] later pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm and is serving more than five years in prison….
Full story, from SMH
December 26, 2004: Wanted: National Police Car
It is a sad situation that speaks of incompetence and profit seeking when police cars have to be retrofitted to save officers’ lives. But that’s what’s been happening with the Ford Crown Victoria in Rockland and elsewhere.
The Crown Vic is the police vehicle of choice, mostly because it has no present competition from other manufacturers, though Chrysler is said to be considering a model. Chevrolet produces a smaller police car used in New York City.
The Crown Vic, called the “police interceptor,” is by poor and incomplete design susceptible to gas tank explosions during rear-end collisions at speeds topping 50 mph. About 20 officers, including a state trooper from Pearl River, have died during an estimated 29 post-crash explosions in recent years across the nation.
As reported by Journal News staff writer Steve Lieberman, the Ford Motor Co., which supplies the police cruiser to 85 percent of the nation’s police departments, has retrofitted 350,000 Crown Vics with fuel tank shields “free,” though the plain fact is that Ford caused the danger in the first place….
We have suggested a national police vehicle designed to specification, with input from vehicle safety experts. The Crown Vic, just like the big Chevy, Chrysler and Pontiac sedans before it, are living rooms on wheels modified with heftier engines and stiffer suspensions. They are not the most maneuverable, comfortable or safe vehicles. They are truly not “police interceptors.”
Surely a nation that buys thousands of police vehicles yearly can specify a unique police car. That’s the way military vehicles are procured, right?…
Police departments have been motorized for almost a century. Providing them with safe, properly designed wheels should be a priority.
Full editorial, from the Journal News (New York)
December 22, 2004: Tougher Measures to Target Drug Drivers in Britain
New powers to help tackle the dangers of drug driving can be used from today announced David Jamieson, Road Safety Minister.
A new Code of Practice means that drivers will be compelled to undertake roadside impairment tests if the police suspect they are driving under the influence of drugs.
The Code details the way trained police officers must conduct the tests to help judge whether someone may be unfit to drive. Refusal to participate is an offence in the same way as failure to provide a breath test [i.e. where alcohol is suspected].
Full story here, including DSA comments regarding ‘field sobriety testing’ (by comparison with the USA), the burden of proof, and punishments.
December 12, 2004: Needed: a harder look at policies governing police pursuits
High-speed police pursuits are dangerous — for the public, for police, and for the suspects who choose to flee. Despite the risks, officers sometimes have no choice but to chase a suspect who has committed a violent crime. Most of the time, however, the people who run from the law are not dangerous criminals, but traffic offenders….
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, conservative estimates by various researchers reveal thatpolice pursuits [in the USA] result in 400 to 500 deaths per year, and the number of pursuits is increasing. Other research indicates that thousands are injured. About 42 percent of those killed or injured in police pursuits are innocent third parties, and one out of every 100 high-speed pursuits results in a fatality. On average between 1994 and 1998, an FBI report found, one police officer in the United States was killed every 11 weeks as the result of high-speed pursuits.
Full story, by William P. Mcmanus, from the Star Tribune
November 26, 2004: Fury over speeding cop
A driver [in England] got revenge on a cop who booked him for speeding — by pulling the policeman over for going too fast.
Neil Saunders says he was stopped for doing 76mph on the M20 in Kent. But further along the motorway he saw the same cop at 80mph. So he flashed him to pull over — and phoned police to complain.
Mr Saunders, of Chilham, Kent, said: “I’m prepared to apologise for throwing my rattle out of my pram — but I won’t back down.”
Kent police said: “This is being investigated.”
[Source: The Sun]
November 12, 2004: Visteon TACNET™ Proven Technology to Serve Boston Police Department
Visteon Corporation’s TACNET™ is under field test evaluation by the Boston Police Department. The system has features specifically designed for the Department, improving inter-agency communication and safety of law enforcement officers. TACNET™ is a cost-effective solution for law enforcement agencies and emergency response teams looking to improve inter-agency communications, efficiency and in-vehicle officer safety.
TACNET™ improves officer safety by dramatically reducing the number of devices installed in the police car interior. For example, it integrates lights, sirens, multiple radios, radar, patrol video, AM/FM radio functions and mobile data computers. TACNET™ also gives officers a choice of command and control options by integrating the numerous switches and electronic equipment controls into three main interfaces: voice control, in-dash touch screen and an ergonomically designed control “pod.” This flexibility allows law enforcement agencies to configure control functions to best meet their needs….
November 8, 2004: BlackBerry on Police Beat
The New South Wales Police force is testing handheld devices, including RIM BlackBerries, and will introduce the next generation of its mobile data terminals next year as part of a strategy to maximise police officers’ time on the beat.
The new terminals may allow police to scan fingerprints in the field and receive confirmation, across a wireless network, of a suspect’s identity.
The touchscreen terminals will [also] give officers access to the computerised operational policing system database, offender details and NSW Roads and Traffic Authority databases.
NSW Police chief information officer Tony Rooke said the devices would be ruggedised notebooks, similar to the present batch in the field….
“The 1000 will give us coverage in all of our highway patrol vehicles and some of our first-response vehicles, and it will be the first time we will be able to put MDTs out in the country regions,” he said. “Until a short while ago the terminals only worked reliably in the Sydney metropolitan area.”
The devices use Telstra’s MobileData Network, supplemented by global satellite mapping technology….
Full story, from News.com
November 8, 2004: Two Journalists in Australia Take a Perverse Angle on the Issue of Road Deaths [DSA]
In an article titled “Chases take a brutal toll: 21 young lives snuffed out” two Sydney Morning Herald writers appear to imply that the 21 deaths to which they refer were purely the result of police chases.
In the body of the article, however, they outline that of those 21 young people:
12 were driving or travelling in stolen vehicles
3 were drunk drivers or being driven by a drunk driver, and 2 more may have died as a result of the driver taking drugs
4 were in cars that were being driven dangerously and/or at high speeds
These 21 deaths, all seemingly in New South Wales, were spread over a period of ten years — so on average there were 2 a year — and although every single young death is a tragedy the one question or comment that was totally absent from this article was how many other people in NSW are killed by drunk drivers, dangerous drivers and the drivers of stolen cars each year.
At Drive and Stay Alive, we offer the informed opinion that considerably more than two innocent people die in New South Wales each year as a result of the three named offences and that were it not for frequent police intervention that number would be much higher still.
[Original article, from SMH]
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.
and ALL COUNTRIES — November 2, 2004:
PoliceDriving.com re-opens its Message Board
This excellent forum for law enforcement officers around the
world has now re-opened following modernization of the site.
Join over 100 members to discuss techniques and ideas, or simply chill out and chat to contemporaries and colleagues.
November 1, 2004: Michigan Case Law — Parking a Cruiser to Protect the Officer (and others)
Area police lauded a recent state Supreme Court decision upholding a police officer’s ability to park and angle patrol vehicles in emergency situations on busy roadways.
The high court last week reversed an earlier appellate court ruling that found a state police trooper’s parked vehicle created an “unreasonable risk” in a March 1998 motorcycle crash that killed the driver and seriously injured a female passenger in Saginaw County.
The bike rear-ended a state police vehicle, which had stopped to assist a motorist stalled in the right-hand lane of Dixie Highway. The cruiser’s lights were activated and side spotlight shining when the fatal crash occurred….
Officer safety remains a concern 10 years after a Jackson post state trooper tragically died after being struck during a routine traffic stop….
The trooper’s death served as a catalyst for the 2001 state law requiring motorists to merge to the next available lane when approaching a police or emergency vehicle with its lights flashing. If unable to merge, the law mandates motorists immediately slow down and pass with caution.
Full, detailed story, from M-live.com
October 31, 2004: In Trinidad and Tobago, Police are to Search Every Vehicle and Occupants
Four hundred and fifty-eight traffic offences were detected during a massive traffic exercise which started on Friday and ended yesterday. In Central Division 57 persons were held for speeding, while another 160 traffic offences were detected. That exercise was led by Ag Inspector Martin. Four other persons were held for possession of marijuana on Friday night by officers of the Highway Patrol and taken to the Besson Street Police Station, where they were charged.
Officers of the Highway Patrol told Sunday Newsday all officers involved in the exercises would now be searching vehicles and persons for narcotics, arms, ammunition and stolen items. Previously during traffic exercises, motorists were only asked to present their permits and insurance and a check carried out for defective vehicles. A decision was taken recently to carry out thorough searches on occupants of vehicles for arms, ammunition and drugs. Police officers explained that the aggressive traffic exercises were aimed at dealing with errant motorists, fighting crime and restoring a sense of order on the roadways….
September 21, 2004: Motorcyclist Arrested for Riding at 205 mph — a new, unofficial record for Minnesota
With a State Patrol airplane overhead, a Stillwater motorcyclist hit the throttle and possibly set the informal record for the fastest speeding ticket in Minnesota history: 205 mph.
On Saturday afternoon, State Patrol pilot Al Loney was flying near Wabasha, in southeastern Minnesota on the Wisconsin border, watching two motorcyclists racing along U.S. Highway 61.
When one of the riders shot forward, Loney was ready with his stopwatch. He clicked it once when the motorcycle reached a white marker on the road and again a quarter-mile later. The watch read 4.39 seconds, which Loney calculated to be 205 mph.
“I was in total disbelief,” Loney told the St. Paul Pioneer Press for Tuesday’s editions. “I had to double-check my watch because in 27 years I’d never seen anything move that fast.”
Several law enforcement sources told the newspaper that, although no official records are kept, it was probably the fastest ticket ever written in the state.
After about three-quarters of a mile, the biker slowed to about 100 mph and let the other cycle catch up. By then Loney had radioed ahead to another state trooper, who pulled the two over soon afterward.
The State Patrol officer arrested the faster rider… for reckless driving, driving without a motorcycle license — and driving 140 miles per hour over the posted speed limit of 65 mph….
Only a handful of exotic sports cars can reach 200 mph, but many high-performance motorcycles can top 175 mph. With minor modifications, they can hit 200 mph. [On this occasion, the motorcycle was] a Honda 1000, Loney said.
Full story, from WCCO
September 9, 2004: Cars Pulled Up in Police Blitz in London
In British police jargon it is an ANPR check.
The letters stand for Automatic Number Plate Reader… [The device] can read hundreds of [license plates] a minute [on vehicles travelling] up to 100mph.
September 4, 2004: Yorkshire Police Chief to the Rescue in M62 Crash Scare
West Yorkshire’s top bobby went back to his roots – and turned traffic cop – while on a family outing.
Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn sprang into action when he realised a car had broken down in the outside lane of the busy M62 – creating the potential for a serious accident.
[Glossary note: In Britain, the “outside lane” of a motorway or other divided highway is the one nearest the “central reserve” or median — in other words the right-hand lane, given that the Brits drive on the left. British police officers, however, will rarely if ever refer to a “fast lane” as their argument is that all lanes have the same speed limit and it is dangerous for the public to be given a perception of a difference which does not exist. Naturally, slower moving traffic is expected/obliged to keep left.]
He immediately directed his wife and two sons to a safe spot and then used his own Shogun 4X4, which is equipped with flashing lights and police sign, to warn oncoming traffic of the danger.
At the same time he used his police radio, installed in his car, to call for assistance.
The Chief Constable ensured the young driver was in the safety of the area between the central reservation barriers.
He then reversed his 4X4 car – which also carries high visibility chevrons on the rear – further down the road to protect the broken down vehicle while he donned fluorescent jacket and police cap to “encourage” motorists to filter into the two other unaffected lanes of the motorway….
Today, Mr Cramphorn played down his role saying it was the duty of any officer, whatever rank, to discharge their obligations of protecting the public.
He said: “It is in the first few minutes when traffic is at full speed, that there is the greatest potential for disaster”….
Full story, from Leeds Today
DSA Comment: The only reason we have posted this article is to make the point that of course Mr Cramphorn should have done what he did. All police officers of any rank surely have an equal and absolute responsibility, whether on duty or off duty, to protect other people’s lives. We agree entirely with Mr Cramphorn’s actions and comments but not with the newspaper’s assertion that his role somehow needed to be “played down” — he simply did his job.
August 16, 2004: Accident Prevention Begins in Bars and Nightclubs
The traffic division of the Israel Police is currently investigating an innovative strategy to decrease the number of fatal road accidents in which young drivers are involved. Younger members of the police force will patrol recreational sites like bars and nightclubs on weekends to alert youth to the presence of heightened enforcement by police in the area. These officers will warn youth to avoid excessive drinking and will urge them to drive cautiously.
The traffic division explains that the goal of this new measure is to increase awareness in young drivers of the severe outcomes associated with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving while extremely tired. According to the traffic division, the strategy represents only one of a number of ideas that they are testing in response to the alarming rise in the number of fatal road accidents involving young drivers….
Chief Superintendent Hezi Schwartzman, who heads the research department of the police’s traffic division, says that while young drivers represented only 15 percent of the total population of drivers, in January-July 2004, they were involved in 24 percent of the fatal accidents. On the weekends, they were responsible for 42 percent of the fatal accidents during this period. Most of these accidents occur between Friday night and Saturday, from midnight until 6 a.m.
“We have to remember that unlike older drivers, who drive mainly to and from work, young drivers mainly drive the family car in the dark to leisure activities at a greater distance,” says Schwartzman. “There is the element of darkness, alcohol, the need to show off and caving in to peer pressure to drive faster. There is another factor worth noting – the location of recreational sites and the [late] hours provide young drivers with an open road that tempts them to increase their speed. Finally, there is the societal trend to fill the car with all of one’s young friends when driving to fun activities so that when an accident occurs, a greater number of individuals are injured.”….
Read this good article, from Haaretz
DSA Comment: Patrolling the bars and nightclubs, as preventive measure, sounds like an excellent idea that may also impact on younger people’s psyche if the exercise is allowed to continue (i.e. is funded) for enough years and thereby have a longer term effect on the reduction of drunk driving.
Eddie Wren, Executive Director, Drive and Stay Alive, Inc.
August 13, 2004: The Rooster that Tried to Hide in the Foxes Den!
A man faces several charges after a high-speed chase on I-55 southbound that ended when his vehicle crashed into a building at Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol headquarters in Jackson….
Full story, from the Clarion-Ledger
August 11, 2004: Schwarzenegger’s gets Highway Patrol Badge at CHP Anniversary
WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was given a California Highway Patrol badge Wednesday as he marked the 75th anniversary of the agency at its training academy….
The patrol has expanded its enforcement far beyond the patchwork of highways and fragmented traffic laws that existed at its creation three quarters of a century ago Saturday. The state’s vehicle code has grown from 30 pages to 1,160 pages and the tasks CHP officers now perform include homeland security details such as guarding bridges, buildings and nuclear plants.
As the son of an Austrian cop, the governor said he understood the hard work and commitment it took to be a police officer.
But he joked that the job was especially difficult in the Golden State, where officers making traffic stops often have to scrutinize two different driver’s licenses — with photos before and after plastic surgery….
Full story, from The Mercury News
August 7, 2004: Sheriff Patrol Cars May Get Automatic Locator Equipment
MICHIGAN — Berrien County sheriff’s patrol cars soon may be fitted with equipment that will allow dispatchers to know their exact locations at all times.
The automatic vehicle locator could cut the time it takes to get help to an officer who is in a potentially life-threatening situation, officials said.
Sheriff Paul Bailey said each patrol car would be fitted with a device that works with global positioning system towers….
Full story, from The Herald Palladium
August 7, 2004: Pocket Computers are to Replace Traffic Officers’ Fine Books in the UAE
DUBAI – Traffic cops in the city will soon be carrying ‘Pocket PCs’ instead of traffic fine registers which will go into retirement after the introduction of an integrated electronic system, a traffic police official said yesterday.
The move, according to police, comes as part of an overall police strategy aimed at replacing current methods with more advanced systems that could serve [a] larger number of people and catch up with the pace of development in the city.
“The new traffic system depends on a central database. More than 400 traffic department employees, [currently] working in the vehicle and driver licensing sections, will be [redirected] to working in field assignments, that is in traffic planning and accident investigation, etc,” said Colonel Ahmed Hamdan bin Dalmouk, Head of the General Directorate of Electronic Services at Dubai Police.
It will be the first time in the Arab countries that a ‘pocket PC’ is being used… for the provision of traffic services, said Col. Bin Dalmouk. A traffic cop can get any information about a certain vehicle by just entering its registration number.
He can also issue a traffic fine and send a mobile phone message, a fax or an email message to the car owner, depending on the data available in the traffic file of the vehicle owner. The amount of the fine can also be relayed to him or her as well as all details relevant to the traffic violation. “This (pocket PC) will mean that the manual traffic fine register will no more be needed for the issue of traffic fine notices,” said the official.
The device also has a camera that takes photos of the vehicle in question as a proof against the offender. These photos can be shown to the traffic offender if he or she raises any objections. Traffic accidents or any unacceptable driving behaviour by reckless drivers can also be photographed. …
The new system is expected to be fully operational within months. It can deal with 183 different traffic violations. Cops can access data on traffic statistics on a daily basis to know the number of fatalities in accidents as well as injury cases, number of registered cars and licences and traffic fines issued by the Dubai Traffic Police Department.
The system can provide three main traffic services; inquiry on vehicles, issue of traffic fines and provision of traffic statistical information.
Col. Bin Dalmouk said the system would first be implemented in Dubai, and at a later stage, would be generalised to be used in other emirates in the UAE as part of the unified traffic system….
The system will handle a huge workload at traffic police departments. Col. Bin Dalmouk said some 3,000 transactions were processed daily at Dubai Traffic Police Department.
Full article, from the Khaleej Times
July 14, 2004: An Easy but Dreadful Mistake to Make
Parents stunned after authorities misidentify car crash teens
Authorities in the northern Michigan community of Bellaire are investigating a case of mistaken identity that meant agony for two families.
One had been told their teen-age son had been killed in a car wreck. The other had been informed their son was badly injured.
It was only at the funeral home, when the parents of 17-year-old Patrick Bement saw the body of the victim, that they realized the mistake. As his stepmother puts it, “We told them, ‘It’s not our son — It’s not Patrick’.”
It turns out their son was the bandaged-up boy lying critically injured in a hospital bed, watched over by the other boy’s family.
Deputies had based their conclusion on an I-D found near the body ejected from the car.
July 8, 2004: Traffic Stops are Sometimes ‘Scary’ for Law Enforcement Officers
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Kim Miller said she has had to leap onto the hood of her patrol car to avoid being hit by a passing motorist during a traffic stop.
It’s been two years since Gov. Jeb Bush enacted the “Move Over Act,” but most motorists still aren’t budging, local authorities said.
The law, which took effect on July 1, 2002, states that drivers who observe law enforcement traffic stops on a highway must move over one lane, giving the officer and motorists who have been stopped a margin of safety.
[But] Kissimmee Police Department Sgt. Jimmy Haddock said he still hasn’t seen a difference.
“My guys are complaining because they say nobody moves over,” [he] said….
Between 1996 and 2000, motorists crashed into law enforcement vehicles that were stopped along Florida highways 1,793 times, resulting in five deaths and 419 injuries statewide….
Failing to move over can result in an $80 fine.
Authorities, however, said it’s difficult to enforce the law. Miller [pointed out that] while conducting a traffic stop, an officer cannot just leave the scene to pull over a violator who failed to move over or slow down.
Full story, from the Osceola News Gazette
DSA comment: Eighty dollars? That’s the value they put on protecting an officer from injuries or potential death?
If — as is implied — this new law isn’t working, then perhaps putting an appropriately high penalty in place for it might make drivers think about what they are doing. If they were made to weep into their wallets there is a much higher chance that some law enforcement officers’ families wouldn’t have to weep all the way to the cemetery.
The legislators need to look at the above figures: An average of one officer killed and 84 injured each year, in one state alone, and the maximum deterrent is $80?!
July 5, 2004: Pitiful Excuses — But Worth a Laugh
[As] the Canada Day long weekend [came to a close], predictable tales of lunacy on the highways were piling up:
— A 62-year-old Mississauga man, driving on Highway 400, was pulled over because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. That was because his wife, who was seated beside him, is itchy and constantly needs scratching, he told the astonished officer.
— Driving at about 180km/h [112mph] was a young man who begged for a break.
“He said, ‘My dad’s a cop; he’s going to kill me,’ OPP Sergeant Cam Wooley recounted. “So we said to him, ‘Maybe he can explain to you what would happen if you crashed at that speed.’ “
— Two drivers from Newfoundland, each in a Honda, offered a novel explanation as to why they were roaring north at breakneck speed, passing each other on the shoulder: They were lost and were getting directions over a cell phone. Trouble was, the phone’s battery was getting low, so they had to drive as fast as possible.
“We told him there’s some new technology available,” Sgt Wooley said. “It’s called pen and paper.”
[Source: the Globe and Mail]
June 11, 2004: Cool, Speedy and Illegal: Motorized Scooters and Pocket Bikes are a Cause of Concern
There are few thrills like racing along on a motorcycle — even if it isn’t any taller than your knees….
Forget that pocket bikes’ sizes make them look better suited to a preschooler than to teenagers and adults. In recent years, the bikes — some selling for more than $1,000 — have become all the rage across California among young adults, teenagers and even preteens, along with motorized scooters….
These motorized vehicles are a dream-come-true for many, but they have become something of a nightmare for law enforcement agencies.
“It’s just a headache for us,” Tulare police Sgt. Wes Hensley said. “These things just popped up, and we didn’t know what the rules were. It took us a while to get an answer.”
Even the California Highway Patrol had to figure out what to do with them.
“Basically, these are relatively new. Like everything else when things change, the vehicle code has to catch up with it,” said Steve Kohler, a CHP spokesman in Sacramento.
But their concern goes deeper than just defining traffic laws.
Despite their sizes, some pocket bikes reach speeds exceeding 55 mph, and some motorized scooters can travel at more than 20 mph. Adults and youths often ride them on city streets.
“It’s unsafe as heck. It’s not stable. And you’re really low to the ground, so visibility is a problem,” Hensley said of pocket bikes. “I’ll bet you there’s 200 or more around [Tulare].”
Indeed, in 2000 an estimated 4,390 people were treated in U.S. emergency rooms because of motorized scooter crashes, 39 percent of them involving children younger than 15….
Full story, from the Tulare Advance-Register
May 31, 2004: Governor Schwarzenegger Agrees to Hire 270 More California Highway Patrol Officers
Fearing that the safety of the state’s motorists could be in jeopardy if vacancies in the California Highway Patrol are not filled, the Schwarzenegger administration has reversed its earlier decision and agreed to hire as many as 270 new officers….
The current budget gives the CHP an authorized force of 6,136 officers, but the agency is operating at about 90 fewer than full strength. Of that force, 5,373 are assigned to road duty….
CHP Commissioner D.O. “Spike” Helmick said arrests for drunken driving have sharply increased and fatal accidents have taken a “dangerous turn” upward in the past five years as the state’s population has increased, more vehicles have crowded the roads and motorists have traveled millions more miles….
The CHP’s nationally acclaimed training academy…. has been virtually shut down since September. The academy typically produces about 300 new officers a year and has contracted to train other states’ traffic patrol officers.
Full story, from the Tri-Valley Herald
May 17, 2004: Green Light to Run Code 3 in LA
In an effort to reduce its response times, the Los Angeles Police Department has begun dispatching officers to all emergency calls with their lights flashing and sirens blaring.
The policy change, which took effect last weekend, is already receiving a favorable response from patrol officers, who were frustrated at having to wait at red lights and behind slow-moving traffic when responding to important calls.
Previously, emergency calls were dispatched on a two-tier system: High-priority calls, designated as Code 3, required a light and siren; other emergency calls, labeled Code 2-high, did not get a light and siren and forced officers to obey all the traffic laws…
Cmdr. Michel Moore said the public can expect to see more patrol cars rolling with lights and sirens on, and that both must be careful to avoid colliding with one another. But, he said, the increased number of Code 3 calls is hoped to actually reduce traffic collisions.
Officers will become more experienced at driving at Code 3 and will be highly visible to the public, he said.
“Officers will realize a siren and a light bar is not a snowplow” Moore said. “I think the public will be pleased to see officers no longer sitting and waiting at traffic lights on what should be Code 3 calls.”
Full article, from the LA Daily News
DSA Comment: At risk of being very contentious, we would suggest that if officers “need to become more experienced at driving at Code 3,” they should have been provided with more training, or more suitable training, in the first place.
May 8, 2004: Policeman Arrested Driving in Fishnet Tights
A French policeman faces trial in a police court for driving under the influence after he was stopped at the wheel of his car drunk and wearing only a pair of fishnet tights, a prosecutor says.
The man admitted he was a part-time prostitute after fellow police chased him through the Bois de Boulogne, a wooded area on the outskirts of Paris reputed as a nighttime hangout of transsexual prostitutes, in the early hours of Thursday.
Full story, from Reuters
DSA Comment: Nahhhh….Maybe we shouldn’t comment, after all. We can’t think of anything that is publishable!
May 7, 2004: In Scotland, the Tayside Police Have Launched a Crackdown on Vehicles With Tinted Windows.
Officers are to be equipped with special meters to measure how dark the windows are, and if they are found to breach new regulations, drivers face losing their licence.
Officers are concerned that tinted windows can reduce the view the driver has of other road users and traffic conditions.
Constable Iain MacNicol, from the western division road policing unit, said: “If a vehicle with tinted front side windows or a windscreen is involved in a collision, then the driver’s reduced view is likely to be a major contributory factor to that collision.
Full story, from the Press and Journal — North Scotland
May 6, 2004: Little Falls Police Sergeant Busy Securing Road Safety Grants for the City
With the public’s safety in mind, Little Falls Police Sergeant Joseph Servidone has been busy getting grant money for several programs in the city.
The grants have totaled more than $47,000 since 2002, when Servidone applied for his first grant.
The grants, through [the New York State] Traffic Safety Committee, have helped the department in several areas. A grant for one of those areas, aggressive driving, is under way right now…
“[Sergeant Servidone] has attended several seminars on traffic safety and made connections on the grants available to departments such as Little Falls. He came to me and talked about these grants and asked if he could pursue it. I told him to go ahead, but he would have to take care of all record keeping. He has,” Police Chief Gregg DeLuca said.
Writing grants is not hard, Servidone confessed, but collecting the amount of research that goes into writing them is time consuming.
Detailed story here, from the Little Falls Evening Times
\ April 2, 2004: Have You Heard the One About the Dead Goat and the Bag of Fish?
A new survey has lifted the lid on the latest bad excuses for accidents, as given by Britain’s drivers, and the weird things that some drivers leave in their company-owned cars. Click here.
30 March – 1 April 2004: TISPOL — International Police Meeting and Exhibition, Münster, Germany.
Open to: Senior officials representing ministries and senior police officers from European states having a responsibility in road safety, members of lecturing staff in traffic matters at police training institutions, representatives from other road safety institutions.
Delegates will be informed about the development of traffic safety activities and their determining factors, assess them and anticipate possible requirements for the future traffic safety work and think about the development of appropriate measures.
Tel: + 49 (0) 2501 806 379 or www.ipomex.de/index_en.html
March 18, 2004: A policeman in Essex (England) confused motorists, after accidentally switching on an electronic “Follow Me” sign in the back window of his car.
Law-abiding motorists duly obliged, and followed the car through the twists and turns of a routine patrol.
The red-faced officer eventually realised that a convoy had built up behind him in Great Totham, in Essex.
“The traffic patrol car was fitted with an LED matrix sign, which officers can use to display instructions to other drivers,” explained another officer.
Get the rest of the story here, from DeHavilland. (It says that “other officers were quite amused.”….. No! Really? – LOL)
March 16, 2004: In the last 10 years, 154 officers have been killed in the USA in traffic accidents while they were outside their police vehicles, usually helping another driver, directing traffic, issuing a ticket or responding to an accident.
Journalist Sarah Bahari has written a good article in the Star-Telegram (Texas) about police motorcyclists being issued with bright, reflective jackets for the sake of safety. Click here to read it.
DSA Comment: The editor of the DSA website is a former traffic patrol officer from a force where reflective jackets have been used (and compulsory) since the 1970s. They undoubtedly save many officers lives and – comparatively speaking – have few if any disadvantages. DSA also has a web page that deals with the subject of patrol car conspicuity.
February 23, 2004: In Michigan, dual-purpose flashlights may cut teen drinking and help tackle drunk driving.
The $800 devices, called “passive alcohol sensors,” look like an ordinary police flashlight and can also be used as one, but can detect alcohol and will help police nab underage drinkers at parties, school dances and sporting events.
They also could be used in routine police work to help officers establish probable cause for a preliminary breath test.
Sgt. Brian Heffner, of the Traverse City Police Department, demonstrated the device at a press conference by holding the flashlight next to a closed container of liquor. The sensor lit up when the bottle was opened and the liquor poured into a glass with cranberry juice.
Full story, from the Traverse City Record Eagle.
February 18, 2004: Motorola introduces mobile digital video solution for police patrol cars.
Today, Motorola announced its first public safety mobile digital video solution designed to address the growing need for in-vehicle video recording during public safety incidents. Motorola’s Mobile Video Enforcer (MVE) will enhance officer safety and provide valuable evidence collection and management capabilities.
Steve Most, business development director, Motorola Radio Systems Division, said: “This product will significantly enhance officer safety by providing another valuable incident management tool in the field.”
The Mobile Video Enforcer consists of a Mobile Digital Video Recorder (MDVR) mounted in an officer’s vehicle and a Digital Video Management Solution (DVMS) located at the police department. The MDVR captures full-motion, DVD quality video. It features pre-event and automatic event- triggered recording capabilities. Incident and criminal profile information are stored with each video. The MDVR functions as a standalone unit but can also be interfaced to provide full control of the MDVR through the mobile data terminal display, including displaying video…
Video clips and still images can be retrieved within seconds from the database in a standard format for supervisory review, training, or evidentiary purposes.
Other key features of the Motorola Mobile Video Enforcer include:
— QuickZoom License Plate Capture — The MVE provides a wide field of view, capturing 400 percent more information than analog systems. The automatic zoom feature also compensates for ambient light conditions, allowing important information to be captured automatically, such as license plate tags.
— Tamper-proof Evidence – MVE is designed to eliminate any opportunity to overwrite or modify recordings in the field.
— Intelligent Event Classification – MVE’s Event Classification capabilities allow administrators to prioritize incident review and storage, as well as search content by officer, date or time.
— Enhanced Performance and Reliability – MVE offers four times the recording capacity of analog systems, eliminating the need for VCR maintenance and repair. The integrity of digital files remains intact over time.
— In-Vehicle Equipment Integration — Captured video can be displayed on in-vehicle computers such as Motorola’s ruggedized Mobile Workstation, the MW800 or Motorola’s ruggedized laptop, the ML900. The MDVR includes spare RS-232 and USB ports, providing future expansion capability.
[Source: Motorola Press Release]
February 5, 2004: Zooming past a stopped emergency in Texas vehicle will cost you!
Police officers standing alongside vehicles they have pulled over are often put in jeopardy or, worse, are injured or killed by stupid drivers who pass by too close or too fast.
A new state law in Texas — in effect since last September to protect officers in those situations — aims to change that, and it’s generating quite a bit of publicity.
The law requires motorists who approach a stopped emergency vehicle that has lights activated to do one of three things:
Vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle if the roadway has two or more lanes traveling the direction of the emergency vehicle; or, if that doesn’t apply,
Slow to speed not more than 20 mph less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is over 25 mph; or
Slow to a speed not more than 5 mph when the posted speed limit is less than 25 mph.
Violation of the law carries a $200 fine, a fee that jumps to $500 if the violation results in property damage. If the violation results in an injury to a victim, the offense is enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Full article, by Jayson Larson, for the Athens Daily Review.
And here’s one that our editor found amusing. How many traffic patrol officers around the world would like to use this technique?
January 28, 2004: New police tactics in New Zealand.
The accompanying photo, taken by a member of the public on Monday afternoon, shows a member of Wellington’s road policing group discreetly tucked behind bushes in the median strip where the northbound urban motorway splits into State Highways 1 and 2. The “spotter” was recording offences and calling colleagues further up the road to stop the offending motorists.
Inspector Allan Boreham, Wellington district road policing manager, made no apologies for the “short duration, high impact” operation… Speedsters were deterred only by being caught and fined, not by a high-visibility police presence on the roads, he said.
He reminded people who thought the tactic was sneaky to remember that plainclothes police commonly targeted drug dealers and car thieves.
Full story, from Stuff.
[Note: In the UK, many forces use cargo vans parked on lay-bys (i.e. small parking areas) or over-bridges, with the side door open and the operator inside with a laser speedmeter/camera unit — perhaps because the weather doesn’t allow them to sit in the bushes as often as it would in NZ!]
Other Articles & Topics
Protecting Emergency Responders on the Highways (pdf) USA; 2000
The Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association (CVVFA) released a White Paper identifying strategies to reduce deaths and injuries to emergency service personnel on the roadways. The paper was written under a grant from the United States Fire Administration. It recommends broad initiatives to reduce these tragic incidents.
Road Policing and Road Safety — a Position Paper; Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), UK; January 2004
Almost all road crashes are caused by, or involve, human error. Therefore, to reduce this appalling toll of loss and injury, it is necessary to influence the way drivers, riders and walkers behave when using the road. There are many ways of influencing behaviour and it is well recognised that the most effective approach is a co-ordinated strategy of:
Road policing is a vital component of… road safety strategy, and plays a key role in saving lives and minimising injury on the roads. It must be given its rightful priority by governments and Police Services, and be adequately resourced.
The police have many priorities (including violent crime, burglaries and the prevention of terrorism) all of which are extremely important issues that concern the public. However, more people are killed on the roads than by any form of crime…
The purpose of this paper is to:
— outline the role and effectiveness of roads policing;
— explore issues related to the level and provision of roads policing;
— develop RoSPA’s policy positions in regard to roads policing.