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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Defensive driving applies to protests and mass gatherings

The National Safety Council says drivers need to plan trips around current events like weather, road construction, and even mass gatherings or protests.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — On May 30, a woman in a pickup truck struck protesters in Kokomo. On June 8, a woman drove a van through protesters on Monument Circle.
On Monday, a woman drove off with protesters hanging on a car in Bloomington.

All the drivers face criminal charges.

National Safety Council driver safety education expert Ryan Pietzsch says most incidents like this can be avoided with defensive driving.  

"We would expect those folks to stop and safely turn around and reroute themselves,” said Pietzsch. “There's a lot of aggressive attitudes that go with that and that's what we want to try to avoid."

Pietzsch says drivers need to plan trips around current events like weather, road construction, and even mass gatherings. So, if there are protests are happening in downtown Indianapolis, don't take a route that includes Monument Circle.

Treat protestors blocking traffic like high water or other detours. Practice defensive driving if you encounter a crowd.

"We have to operate with due regard to all road users,” said Pietzsch. “That includes pedestrians that are not in the proper crosswalks."

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department responded to a 13 News request for an interview on protest traffic with this statement:

"We support the first amendment right to peacefully protest in our community.  For the safety of everyone involved we encourage protesters, drivers and pedestrians to be considerate of each other and maintain a safe distance."

What if protesters attack you or your vehicle?

"Instead of being aggressive, because you have potentially a high-powered motor and a vehicle, try to protect yourself in place, put the vehicle in park and lock the doors and call for assistance,” said Pietzsch.

If a vehicle strikes a protester, intentionally or not, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime.