Hollywood has made the speeding police car seem harmless and cliché, Candy Priano says, as the good guys pursue criminals or rush to heroic rescues with few consequences. In real life, she wants you to know there is a human toll, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. An average of five bystanders a week are caught in the way of police pursuits and killed, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Priano’s daughter, Kristie, was killed when her family’s minivan was struck by a teenage girl fleeing a cop in California. In 2007, Priano founded Voices Insisting on Pursuit Safety, aimed at helping bereaved families change laws on how police drive.
The organization has found a new voice in Kim Schlau, the mother of Jessica and Kelli Uhl, two teens killed in 2007 when Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell lost control of his police car while driving 126 mph in response to an emergency that was already being handled by other agencies. In the moments before the crash, Mitchell had been talking on his cell phone and e-mailing another trooper. The crash changed policies in the department, which now mandates that troopers terminate the use of mobile computers during emergency driving, use hands-free cell phones, and limit their speed.