Among the many things to think about and timely react to for drivers out and about on Southern California roadways, high-speed police chases likely don’t rank on a top-10 list of concerns for most motorists.
Some California families have thought long and hard about maxed-out pursuits, given that a loved one has died or been badly injured as a result. In fact, data reported in a national media account discussing police chases reveal that 103 people died in pursuit-related crashes involving the California Highway Patrol from 2007 through last year. Moreover, 2,198 individuals suffered non-fatal injuries in such accidents.
What is instantly relevant and notable about accident outcomes in high-speed police pursuits is what might be termed collateral damage. That is, it is often individuals who have nothing to do with a chase — such as bicyclists, walkers, drivers and passengers in cars not involved with the pursuit — who are injured or killed in a crash.
And that is, of course, tragic.
Are such chases necessary? Police can certainly argue — and they routinely do — that fleeing felons are dangerous individuals who might commit further harm if they are not chased and apprehended.
Although that argument likely strikes many people as reasonable, its persuasiveness might be tempered for some upon learning that only about five percent of all high-speed chases that have occurred in the state in recent years involved the pursuit of persons suspected of violent crimes (data derived from official state records).
And here’s a flatly outsized irony: Reportedly, police have chased California drivers for motoring along too tardily on state roadways in scores of instances.