After a string of high speed police chases in Missouri, police have found the need to insist that the public safety is their chief concern. However, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. Motorists should use an abundance of caution during a police chase to avoid a car accident.
Multiple High Speed Chases in St. Joseph Area
In the past few weeks, there have been multiple high speed police chases in the St. Joseph area. Every time one of them occurs, other motorists are put at significant risk as police try to run the suspect down.
Police have found it necessary to reassure the public that road safety is the highest priority for officers who respond to the incident. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, officers involved in the chase regularly stop the pursuit because they decide that it is not safe, anymore. A police supervisor is also used to oversee the chase and to cut it off if it becomes unsafe for other motorists.
Every Chase is Dangerous to the Public
In spite of what the police say, though, every high speed police chase is a danger to the public. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 1982 and 2014, there were 10,642 people killed in police chases. That is nearly one person every day for 32 years.
One study broke down who those people were. It found that 27 percent of the fatalities were innocent bystanders who were uninvolved in the chase. 1 percent of the fatalities were police officers.
Another study found that, for every innocent bystander killed in a police chase, a non-driver in the fleeing vehicle was killed, as well. Together, this would mean that more than half of the people killed in police chases were not the ones driving the fleeing vehicle.
What Other Drivers Can Do
The best thing that other motorists can do during a police chase is to get out of the way. Of course, this is much easier said than done. High speed police chases tend to surprise other drivers, and it is incredibly difficult to warn them when one is approaching.
However, staying out of the way is essential because bystander victims in police chases are unlikely to get compensated for any injuries they suffer. If they get hit and hurt by the fleeing driver, there is unlikely to be an insurance company to turn to. If they get hurt by a police officer, the victim will have to sue the police department and the municipality – a type of lawsuit that is fraught with difficulties.
What Other Drivers Should Not Do
One of the worst things that other drivers can do, though, is to get involved in the chase. While this might seem enticing for drivers who want to help out, there is no way for police to predict what the intervening driver is going to do. All of the police in the chase are in constant communication with each other. An intervening driver is an unknown who may actually be upsetting law enforcement’s plans to stop the chase.