Readers to law enforcement: Look in the mirror

| April 16, 2013

Tennessee Highway Patrol car and truck at weigh stationWhile no small amount of law-enforcement kudos piled on in the wake of our reporting on the state of Tennessee’s efforts to use big rigs on the highways to nab four-wheelers texting behind the wheel, a thread throughout the commentary under the story and on our Facebook page saw more mixed feelings about the subject. Jim Stewart recalled the 1970s and a “mobile speed trap” of sorts in Maryland whose driver went by the name “Mother Goose” on the CB and “entrapped truckers on 301 by enticing them to hammer down with CB chatter, acting like a trucker on the front door.”

(UPDATE: Another commenter remembers Mother Goose differently, describing the rig as a confiscated semi that ran radar and chase cars then pulled speeders; “Mother Goose” was lettered on the doors.)

Other drivers chimed in with worries that a trooper behind the wheel of a rig looking for texting four-wheelers was the very definition of highway-safety hazard. The pictured officer “needs to be looking where he is going and not checking out the seat covers of other vehicles,” wrote one commenter. “This makes him just as dangerous as [the drivers] he is trying to catch.”

Wrote another, “Too bad they can’t find something better to do with their time than chase petty misdemeanors in a rig that gets 7 mpg and costs [quite a lot] to operate and maintain.”

On our Facebook page, Sherry Bailey Olinger suggested they crack down on their own: “What are they doing about the state troopers or other police who are texting and playing games on their laptops while driving?”

At once, Stewart issued a more hopeful note: “Maybe this time it’s a good thing, if done correctly, in 2013. Hopefully they’ll get a good taste of certain four-wheelers who like to intentionally cause truckers headaches with their aggressive driving habits around big trucks.”

(And no, Jim, none of the current Overdrive staffers have been around long enough to remember that old story in Overdrive about Mother Goose, but we’ll see if we can’t roust the story up in the archives — any chance you could pinpoint a year or two for us?)

trooper in truckFollowing more reactions to the story from around the web. Go here to add your own.
Dean Motzer: Love it! Finally, hopefully, they see what we see out here.

Jim Cox: Nice. I like their Pete. I have seen it on a couple of occasions. If it’s the one they are driving on the road or not I do not know. The one I saw is the same paint scheme as their patrol cars. I always like those colors, especially large-scale like on their Peterbilt. If you need a driver, Tennessee, let me know.

Ron Moses: It’s too bad the relationship between trooper and driver is gone. We used to work together on the CB, but no more. And if anyone says it will make the roads safer I’ll puke — just another tool to grab revenue.

Cody Blankenship: Maybe they should just make some truckers deputies so we can help them out… Just one question: Can we carry a gun?

Keith Johnson: I’d love to see his current medical card and check his logbooks. Just sayin’.

Paul Dennison: Keith, he’s under 100 air-miles and driving intrastate — neither is needed. Plus, he’s gots the badge… Just sayin’.

Gaylen Holmgren: I like the idea, but the trooper should be in the passenger’s seat and radio to police cars to make the stops. They use a similar tactic in Washington state to get cars that pass trucks and cut back to close.

Clifton Hinds: It’s about time they do this. I can’t tell you how many times I almost ran over someone because they were messing with their phone.