Saturday, August 30, 2008

To Chase OR Not to Chase

I had some sort of stomach bug this week and spent an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom where I keep my stack oF Reader's Digest. I've read several articles of late about unlicensed drivers, and there is a particularly interesting one in this month's RD issue.

A statistic quoted..."One in five fatal crashes per year involves a driver without a proper license." That puzzles me. The immediate question that popped to my mind...Why would not having a license play a part in fatalities? I don't think the tests we're given at the DMV really test your ability to drive in the real world, anyhow. But I understood as I read on.

The point of the article is that we have far too many people STILL driving after their licenses have been revoked. But how do you stop that? One scenario revealed took place in Washington DC. A TV crew stationed themselves at a local courthouse and secretly followed people who had just lost their driving rights back to their cars, where they promptly got in and drove away. Did anyone do anything? Nothing was mentioned.

Two states have started impounding the vehicles of offenders, making it less likely they will repeat the offense. Maybe all states should, even if the vehicle belongs to someone else. Make others accountable to lessen the number willing to jeopardize their own licenses by loaning their mode of transportation. People can only drive if they have wheels. Right? It's a good start.

I truly believe deaths could be drastically reduced if police didn't pursue these people with such aggression. One woman, mentioned in the article, was fleeing lawmen when she broadsided another car. Did they really need to actively pursue her? They have her license number and can track the car, so why put other people in jeopardy? Is this such an immediate threat that it has to escalate at that particular minute? I think not. Use the license plate to find where she lives. Arrest her when she's not behind the wheel of a potential murder weapon. Under the stress of pending arrest and conviction, people frequently do not react with reason. This has been proven time and again.

Anyone who watches COPs on TV knows you can't outrun the radio, but still people try. It's part of our "Fight or Flight" response to stress. So, for the police, there's a time to take action and a time to use common sense. I've read about too many incidents where the police were in pursuit and their efforts caused a fatal collision. It's time to set realistic priorities in determining deadly force.


LuAnn said...

I was the coordinator for a traffic safety project for about two years. All the people in the know explained to me why people without licenses are so dangerous. Those who have their licenses revoked aren't the problem ... it's the ones who have never had a license. Because they have never studied for the written test, many don't understand the rules of the road. They don't realize you have to yield the right of way in certain situations or that you don't pass when there is a solid yellow line or that you have to come to a complete stop before barreling out through an intersection, etc., etc., etc. They don't know all the laws and they don't know anything about courtesy toward other drivers. They are very, very dangerous! Here where I live, we have way too many people driving who aren't trained to be behind the wheel and we have higher numbers of collisions than many other areas. It can be pretty scary sometimes.

Ginger Simpson said...

Thank you so much for the comment I had no idea that so many people who had never been licensed were the problem. The article I read focused more on the problems I witnessed during my stint as a Corrections Officer in the county jail...DUI and repeat offenders who had lost their privileges. It's nice to see another perspective, but it does make it even more scary. :)


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