Monday, November 2, 2009

Reporting Dangerous Drivers

To what extent should police partner with drivers who are concerned by and who report reckless drivers?

In the news this week is TV show “Biggest Loser” Abigail Rike, who lost 82 pounds during Season Eight of the show. Her husband and two children died on October 13, 2006, when their minivan was struck head-on by a reckless, speeding driver near Phalba, Texas.

Her husband, who was a high school speech and debate teacher, daughter and 18-day-old son, were killed in the fiery head-on crash.

A man in another car had reported the driver of the car that struck Richard Rike’s vehicle, after that driver tailgated him, passed him and “disappeared” fast out of sight. Shortly thereafter, that man saw a fireball and heavy black smoke in the distance, and then he came upon the accident scene.

A trooper reported that the speeding driver had apparently had been unable to stay in his lane in the right-hand curve where the crash occurred.

Have you ever reported a reckless or speeding driver to local police in McHenry County or to the Sheriff’s Department? Have you ever had the other driver ticketed for a violation that you would later go to court on?

I have, several times. Most of the time the police officers or deputies accepted my complaints and issued tickets.

And, until the last one, every one of those drivers was convicted or pled guilty in McHenry County Traffic Court.

Granted, I might have an edge on the “average” motorist because of my own law enforcement experience.

One of the things I plan to do as Sheriff of McHenry County is offer training to drivers so that they can be effective witnesses in court against reckless and aggressive drivers. And I shall work with the State’s Attorney’s Office and with local police departments to help create smooth working arrangements with any driver who reports a DUI or other reckless, aggressive or dangerous driver.

I believe there should be a good partnership between police and citizens to stop the carnage on our highways. There are traffic violations that you can report to police that will result in tickets to drivers. You must be willing to go to court, if the officer/deputy did not witness it.

12 comments:

Karen12359 said...

Define "reckless". That opinion can vary from person to person.

Gus said...

"Reckless" apparently has to be a combination of charges, such as tailgating, following with bright headlights on, passing in a no-passing zone, speeding (which, by itself, cannot be charged by a civilian without radar).

But add "speeding" if you are traveling at the speed limit, as indicated by the speedometer, and the other driver passes you quickly and very rapidly moves away from you.

Check your speedometer occasionally against the stationary speed trailers in use by many municipalities and the County. At least, you'll know if your speedometer is 1-2MPH "off".

whatmeworry? said...

"Granted I may have an edge on the 'average' motorist because of my own law enforcement experience." What experience?

Whitmore2 said...

I am a very nervous driver. I am easily flustered and overwhelmed by distractions. For example, those red-light cameras cause me a great deal of anxiety because of reaction time to the light change (green to yellow). Reckless??? I try my very hardest to be a good, safe driver. Unfortunately, it may not be perceived that way.

Gus said...

How about five years of solo patrol car operation and three years of motorcycle traffic patrol?

Gus said...

I think you can convert your "nervousness" to wise caution without a lot of work. You might park in a shopping center and observe the intersections where the red-light cameras are. Count the seconds of the yellow light.

You'll learn that you have time to react and stop. Many drivers now approach these intersections more slowly, reducing their speed 5-10MPH so that they'll be able to stop. The cameras are unforgiving when identifying violations.

Be sure to watch your rearview mirror. If you have to run a red light to avoid being rear-ended, pull over as soon as you can and write down the date, time, speed and what happened. Call the local PD and discuss filing an Information Report about the tailgater who would have rammed your car, if you had stopped. Be certain to get the name and Badge number of the officer with whom you speak, whether or not you file a report.

Then, if you do get a ticket, you might be able to persuade the Administrative Adjudication Court judge that you should be found Not Guilty. The camera should show the car behind you, as well as your car.

whatmeworry? said...

I've been driving and watching cop shows for fourty years. I have as much experience as you.

Gus said...

whatme... No, you have more experience...

Karen12359 said...

Jesse Ventura was the Governor of Minnesota. You know how much experience he had? Zero, Zip, Zilch. He had common sense and a passion for what is right. If you have that, and good people around you, you can accomplish anything.
To give up, or never try is self-defeating.
To belittle someone for trying, or constantly attack what you percieve is their vulnerability, says more about you than it does the person you attack.

whatmeworry? said...

You're probably right. Washington is crammed full of people with no experience and look at the fine shape the nation is in. The only problem with common sense is that it is none too common.

Another Lawyer said...

While you weren't watching the "DUI Carnage" has dropped significantly. Are you fighting a 10 year old fight?

In my experience "citizens" don't want to show up for court because they are too busy. Those that do show up have an agenda--because they are mad at someone.

I would much rather cross examine a citizen than an officer. Officers tend to be more "practiced" in "testifying".

Gus said...

You put it nicely. A former California judge called is "testilying."