Police launch program to crackdown on aggressive drivers

Lt. Doug Sweeney
Lt. Doug Sweeney
Officer DeWayne Koch
Officer DeWayne Koch
Officer Jared Newberry
Officer Jared Newberry
Andrew Elliott
Andrew Elliott

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Cutting someone off, following too closely or even speeding. Those are all behaviors we've seen from drivers. Maybe they could even describe you. Now law enforcement in Kentucky is cracking down on aggressive drivers.

Out on the roads, for whatever reason, some drivers can get aggressive.

"I'm not sure what the cause of it is, but you see more instances of aggressive driving behaviors from people that you wouldn't think in any other situation would behave like that," said Lt. Doug Sweeney, commander of the Louisville Metro Police Department's Traffic Unit.

Thursday, Kentucky State Police, along with LMPD and other law enforcement agencies, launched the annual Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks campaign. It is a federally funded program cracking down on commercial vehicle accidents, injuries and deaths. KSP said there was about a 60% decrease in commercial vehicle accidents from 2008-2010 compared to the 3 year period before that.

"There's always going to be accidents," said Officer DeWayne Koch of the Kentucky State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division. "We are aware of that. But with this campaign, it gives us extra time to be on the road. It gives us extra officers to be on the road to help out and patrol and lower the accident rate."

Law enforcement is focusing on the interstates that go through Jefferson and Bullitt counties. Here's what Koch said officers are looking out for.

"The common violations that officers will be monitoring for are speeding, following too close, erratic lane changes and not leaving enough space when passing a commercial vehicle," said Koch.

On Thanksgiving 2010, police said Robert Patrick Kane lost control of his SUV on Interstate 71 as he tried to pass a car. Two people were killed. One witness said he appeared to be driving aggressively. Another witness said he didn't appear to be.

"It makes us want to do a better job," said Koch. "It makes us want to use the hours that they give us and patrol and catch aggressive drivers. We can't catch them all, but we catch a lot of them."

To see it in action, I rode with Officer Jared Newberry of KSP CVE on I-264. Newberry spotted a driver that appeared to move from the right hand lane into the center lane and then cut a car off. The driver was also not using turn signals.

Newberry pulled the vehicle over and the driver was issued a courtesy notice. Further down the expressway, 18-year-old Andrew Elliott of Louisville was pulled over as part of the TACT program. He appeared to be speeding.

"It's a really good program," Elliott said. "It helps keep people safe. I appreciate that he actually did pull me over. If I was going too fast, it's what needed to be done. Whatever helps keep people safe."

Elliott also received a courtesy notice and promised that he would not do it again. For the other drivers on Kentucky's roads, a message from law enforcement.

"Just watch your driving behavior and watch out for us, because we're watching for you," said Sweeney.

If you see aggressive driving, Koch said you can contact 911.

"If it's aggressive, they can give the dispatcher the location and the direction of travel and the vehicle information and units will be in the area to patrol and watch for that vehicle," said Koch.

According to Koch, the campaign will last one year. It is using a federal grant to pay for overtime so it doesn't take an officer off his regular patrol. They can come out with schedule times to come out and work extra time and focus specifically on the campaign.

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