Catching Hit-and-Run Drivers With Amber Alerts

A Portland woman whose son was killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver has proposed a new method to apprehend motorists who flee the scene of a deadly collision. She hopes to bring an Amber Alert-like notification system to Portland to help nab the bad guys. The proposal is based on a system that’s already up and running in Denver, reports Michael Andersen at Bike Portland:

Portland's Kristi Finney, whose son was killed by a drunk driver, is pushing for an Amber Alert-like notification system to catch the perpetrators in hit-and-run crashes. Photo: Bike Portland
Portland’s Kristi Finney, whose son was killed by a drunk driver who fled the scene, is pushing for an Amber Alert-like notification system to catch the perpetrators in hit-and-run crashes. Photo: Bike Portland

Kristy Finney, whose son Dustin was killed in 2011 by a man driving drunk on Southeast Division Street, is modeling her proposal on a similar system already in use in Colorado for “cases involving serious injury or death — and when a reliable description of the fleeing vehicle is available.”

Last week, Colorado’s governor signed a statewide rollout of apparently successful pilot programs in Denver and Aurora.

“The notification goes to all patrol cars, cabdrivers, news outlets, truck drivers and pedicab operators. A message is displayed on traffic reader boards and on Crime Stoppers’ Twitter and Facebook accounts,” adds the Denver Post.

That paper reported last year that seven such alerts had been issued in the area in 2012-2013, and “some have resulted in arrests.”

KATU-TV first reported last month on Finney’s campaign here in Portland, adding that “more than 1,200 cab drivers and 7,500 UPS trucks” are already enrolled in the Colorado programs. For Finney, who’s become an important figure in the local street safety world, it’s a way to marry modern technology with the public’s willingness to help apprehend criminals.

It also takes advantage of existing regulations that gather the contact information of professional drivers.

There’s a discussion in the Bike Portland comments about how effective this system would be and whether it could safely alert people who are behind the wheel. What do you think?

Elsewhere on the Network today: PubliCola at SeattleMet reveals that a “coalition of groups” opposing a Seattle transit ballot measure appears to be composed of phantom organizations. Portland Transport says that in order for transit to function well on routes that include transfers, service needs to be relatively frequent. And Rails-to-Trails reports that an international working group on cycling safety is calling for a mix of speed control and protected bike infrastructure in cities.


What Do We Do When a Reckless Motorist Refuses to Stop Driving?

In August, 20-year-old college student Henry Schmidt was struck and seriously injured by a driver while walking his bike on a Portland street. The motorist reportedly fled the scene, and contacted authorities only after police, acting on an anonymous tip, found her car, which she had taken to a body shop outside of town. And […]

In American Courts, Drivers Still Innocent After Proven Guilty

When it comes to traffic fatalities, the scales of the American justice system are not weighted equally. Let’s compare two cases. A year ago a young mother was charged with vehicular homicide after her four-year-old son was struck by a drunk driver who fled the scene. The woman’s crime, in the strict legal sense, was jaywalking […]

Congress to America: “Get a Car!”

Photographer and blogger Jay Mallin, whose video of Woodbridge, VA police ticketing injured pedestrians was picked up by Streetsblog NYC a year ago, has turned his attention to the congressional transportation debacle. Mallin’s new video is entitled “Get a Car,” and is named for the apparent message of the House transportation bill, and, to a lesser […]