Troopers cracking down on drivers around semis - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Troopers cracking down on drivers around semis


Ray Cortopassi/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Police can see you, but you can't see them. Indiana State Police are now watching how you drive around semis from inside the trucks. Eyewitness News rode along Wednesday to see how the new stealth program works.

681 crashes and 763 deaths: 2007 numbers show how dangerous it is getting on the road. Of the crashes involving semis, Indiana State Police say a little more than half are caused not by the truck, but by the passenger vehicle.

"When this truck and trailer is loaded, it's like a rolling freight train. It takes a lot to stop it," said John Henry, a 25-year trucker.

"People don't realize that an 80,000 pound truck can't stop like a 4,000 pound car. So they will cut in front of a semi and then hit their brakes because they are in traffic, " said Sergeant Wayne Flick, Indiana State Police. "It takes 400 feet to slow down and stop an 80,000 pound semi traveling 60 miles per hour. So, if you pull in front of them and hit the brakes, bad things are going to happen."

"All of us who drive the highways have seen aggressive drivers, whether they are motorists, or truck drivers, they cut in and out, speed and tailgate," said Kenneth Cragen, Indiana Motor Truck Association.

We're used to seeing state police on the interstates in their patrol cars. Now they're going stealth. By getting out of his car and climbing into the big rig, Tyler the Trooper has become Tyler the trucker.

By riding alongside a trucker in the cab, the trooper can watch for unsafe driving and radio another trooper up ahead. They do it by working in teams.

Six or seven troopers will work in tandem along a designated route.

"We'll have them spread out kind of like we're going in a circle. We'll have them on several points, on exits," said Trooper Tyler Utterback, Indiana State Police.

"I give them updates from time to time, where we are," Utterback said.

It didn't take long to see how effective the approach could be. In two hours, troopers made 40 traffic stops resulting in 31 citations.

"We will be very judicious about where we employ this project," said Indiana State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell.

"We will confine these projects to just those areas that have been identified as high crash areas," he said.

That means anytime, anywhere and in any weather, the next truck you see next to you maybe your next ticket.

State Police studied similar programs in Kansas and Washington and are partnering with the Indiana Motor Truck Association for the crackdown.

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