Call to limit police car chases

Friday 22 June 2012, 4:56PM
By Dog & Lemon Guide

A leading road safety campaigner has repeated a call for the police to limit car chases to ‘extreme emergencies’.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website dogandlemon.com, was commenting after a South Auckland mother narrowly escaped serious injury when a fleeing car smashed into a police car and then rolled onto her vehicle.

“I know it's frustrating for the police to have to put up with criminal idiots who speed away from patrol cars. However, the fact remains that high speed chases risk the lives of everyone, including the police and innocent bystanders.”

This latest incident follows a recent Independent Police Conduct Authority finding that a 150km/h police car chase through the streets of Auckland was unjustified. The chase ended in a crash in which one man was killed and two of his passengers were seriously injured.

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“These fleeing drivers aren’t going to stop and think what they’re doing, so it’s up to the police to use their heads instead.”

“The police have other options: they can use surveillance cameras, helicopters, road spikes, or simply notify other police cars and quietly pursue the fleeing vehicle at a distance.”

“The sort of drivers who try and outrun police don’t think of consequences  – they get a rush of adrenaline and just take off at high speed. However, the police who are pursuing a fleeing car shouldn’t allow a similar rush of adrenaline to replace their own sound judgment.”

“A recent study of pursuit-related accidents in Britain showed that half of police drivers whose chases end in death were not fully trained. I suspect the same would apply here.”

In 2011, five people were killed and 89 injured during police pursuits, including 69 people in offending vehicles, four police officers and 16 innocent bystanders or road users.