Spike Strips Are Safer Than One Might Think

By: Alex Zequeira Email
By: Alex Zequeira Email

A high speed chase in Houston County resulted in the death of an innocent man, last weekend, after two men fleeing from law enforcement slammed into his car. During the chase, spike strips were used to stop the fleeing suspects, and now there are questions about how safe these spikes really are.

The use of stop sticks is common whenever a high speed pursuit breaks out, but they also prevent a speeding suspect from spinning out of control and injuring others.

Hollywood would have you believe that when a tire hits a spike, it pops causing the driver of the car to loose control and may even crash. But that's not what really happens.

"Once the steel tubes or spikes go into the tire itself, it creates a hollow channel, usually two side by side. That creates a slow leak and the air comes out in a very uniform manner," said Officer Frank Bissette of the Dothan Police Department.

With each tire leaking air slowly, a speeder is less likely to lose control of the vehicle and run into another car and cause a potentially fatal accident.

"Spike Strips are used to try and safely get the vehicle stopped and slowed down before anybody gets hurt," said Dothan Police Corporal Jeremy Collins.

Despite the effectiveness of spike strips, police often find themselves chasing a speeding suspect while trying to avoid causing an accident on the road. Which is one of the main reasons, police say, all high speed chases are dangerous no matter what.

Police in Dothan also make sure that they never use unmarked vehicles when conducting a high speed chase, so that other drivers can identify their patrol cars and try to steer away from the chase.

And if at all possible law enforcement officials try to avoid high speed chases, because it's usually the public and not the speeder that is at the greatest risk.

The Dothan Police Department was asked for assistance in this weekend's high speed chase. They lent that assistance by laying down a spike strip to try to slow down the suspect.

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  • by Anonymous Location: Birmingham on Aug 3, 2007 at 09:24 AM
    Strips can cause you to not be able to control your vehicle thats whatt a flat tire does. You are right the driver could have pulled over and gotton a ticket and ended it all. However bad judgement and just being afraid played a big part in this. Don't be quick to judge until you know the persons involved. This driver would never intentally hurt anyone. He made a mistake. Those of us who have never made a mistake stand up please. My prayers are with both families lets not forget there are two families involved. Also I have noticed that our police sometimes can be cocky at times and I know some of them personally so I am looking at both sides.
  • by Anonymous Location: Daleville on Jul 26, 2007 at 05:03 AM
    the Police do Not deserve criticism about the recent tragedy in Houston County. The driver of the vehicle causing the problem should step up and take responsibility for his actions. He could have just stopped got his ticket and continued on his way. The Police did not make him Flee that was his decision to do so.
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