More Than 350 Fatalities Annually in Police Chase-Related Accidents
There’s little attention paid to the hundreds of innocent motorists injured or killed every year in accidents caused by high-speed police chases. A new report by USA Today throws more light on this problem.
According to the report, which is based on NHTSA figures, every year, approximately 350 people are killed in accidents caused when police are chasing a suspect in a high-speed pursuit. In about one third of the cases, these fatalities involve the suspect being chased. The remainder, and the majority of the fatalities, involves innocent motorists.
It actually gets worse. The fatality totals may be just the tip of the iceberg, because there is no national reporting system for these fatalities. The actual number is probably much higher.
Every year, an estimated 20 motorists are killed in Georgia, and more are injured, in accidents caused by police chases.Many of these chases are initiated because the suspect has committed a minor infraction, like running a red light. Georgia’s police officers have discretionary powers to judge if a situation merits a chase. However, very often, chases are initiated to pursue motorists who have committed minor traffic offenses. Critics of high-speed police chases also point out that often, the motorist who is being chased might have a previous offense or violation that he’s afraid will come out, if he is apprehended. This gives rise to panic and anxiety, never admirable traits in a motorist. In a state of panic, the motorist may drive at uncontrollable speeds, and the results can be disastrous
When it comes to high-speed police chases, there are no easy answers. Police officers have traditionally chafed at the idea of restricting their powers to initiate a pursuit. As Atlanta car accident lawyers, we hope this report will urge lawmakers in Georgia to review our current laws governing police chases.