Police Generally Not Trained To Deal With Runaway Vehicles


An informal New York Times survey of law enforcement officials across the U.S. found that there is little police protocol anywhere for situations involving a vehicle careering out of control. “They are not specifically trained to slow down runaway vehicles,” said Erin Komatsubara of the California Highway Patrol of the agency's patrol officers. Neither are officers in other populous, high-traffic states like Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Texas.

While attention has been drawn recently to acceleration problems because of the recall of millions of Toyotas, confirmed reports of runaway cars are so rare that law enforcement officials suggested that they worry more about dishonest drivers trying to avoid a ticket than they do about stopping out-of-control vehicles. “We don't want to make the assumption that because a Prius is zooming around at 90 miles an hour that it's a mechanical issue,” said Sgt. Kern Swoboda of the New York State Police. A California Highway Patrol officer was credited with quick thinking March 8 for helping stop a Toyota Prius traveling at a high rate of speed. The driver had called 911 to report that the car's accelerator was stuck and that the brakes were not stopping the car. The 30-mile ride in the outskirts of San Diego ended after the patrolman shouted instructions for stopping the car and pulled in front of it at speeds up to 90 MPH.

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