Highway Patrol to use special cars for traffic violators | NevadaAppeal.com

Highway Patrol to use special cars for traffic violators

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer
Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Matt Zacha, left, and Cindy Campbell stand next to two new NHP patrol cars, a Chrystler Concords and a Chevrolet Impala which will be unmarked. Troopers in the cars will look specifically for aggresive drivers who put others at risk. Photo by Brian Corley

Drivers passing a late model, silver-colored Chrysler Concorde or dark blue Chevy Impala beginning Sunday should remove their foot from the accelerator and mind their manners.

A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper could be behind the wheel looking for aggressive drivers in Douglas County and Carson City.

“We’ll be working primarily in high traffic areas, looking for anything that could cause a problem on the road,” said Mark Zacha, spokesman for the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Known as the Aggressive Driving Apprehension/Prevention Team, the program is funded through a $104,000 federal grant from the Office of Traffic Safety.

Nevada is the fastest-growing state in the nation and the increase in population has meant more aggressive drivers on Nevada’s crowded roads, according to Zacha.

The problem has been exacerbated by an increase in the number of drivers carrying cell phones. Drivers are reporting aggressive drivers more often and troopers spend hours chasing those reports.

“The Federal Government recognizes this and they’re trying to do something about it,” he said. “When drivers see me in a marked unit, they all slow down. When they can’t tell where I am, it’s going to make them think.”

The cars’ exteriors bear no official markings, right down to the license plate, but the headlights, known as strobe wigwags, are not available to the public and the deck lights, those red, white and blue flashing lights, are neatly ensconced on the dashboard behind the windshield and back window.

Officers normally work four 10-hour days and will add a shift each week, the time-and-a-half paid through the grant. According to Zacha, only experienced, motivated troopers will be used for this extra duty. When the grant expires the Highway Patrol is expected to pick up the slack, assigning these special cars to officers during regular shifts.

The cars will be assigned during two shifts a day, either day or swing. Flexibility will be used to meet traffic demands, the shift commanders directing cars to areas known to have consistently hazardous driving patterns.

All activities during the shift will be taped and all will be admissible in court, according to Zacha.

Should an offender fail to yield, every effort will be made to maintain visual contact with the violator until a marked unit can assume the primary role.

When the program is expanded, officials will add a variety of cars, including a truck and a Mustang, according to Zacha.