Kentucky officers riding shotgun with truckers

By Aaron Ladage
staff writer

If you happen to be trucking down Interstate 65 in Kentucky on the right day, you might notice a suspicious lack of highway patrol cars on the road. But don't worry - the officers are out there.

And if you volunteer, one of those patrol officers could be as close as the jump seat of your truck.

Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement has begun a new pilot program, in which officers ride shotgun with truckers to monitor and ticket aggressive drivers. Armed with radar guns and radios, the in-cab officers are able to see problem drivers without being spotted. They radio ahead to police cruisers, who stop vehicles and issue citations.

Greg Howard, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement commissioner, said this spring that the program was still in its early planning phases.

"We used one truck, one driver, 20 police units and an airplane, and we just set a speed gun and camera up in the truck," Howard said. "What we were looking for, primarily, was issues associated with tailgating, following too closely, improper lane-changing, no turn signals, speeding and reckless driving, whether it be with commercial vehicles or passenger vehicles."

In one three-hour period, Kentucky officers wrote more than 100 tickets to four-wheelers and truckers alike. 

Although it hasn't reached a national level yet, Howard believes working with truckers will help improve highway safety.

"I think the trucking industry gets a bad rap from the public, for the most part," Howard said. "It's not always the truckers that are causing the problems. A big portion of the time, it's the individual cars."

Howard said the Kentucky program is still welcoming volunteers who would like to donate their time or trucks. To volunteer, call (502) 564-3276 and ask for Commissioner Greg Howard. For the part of the state west of I-75, you can also ask for Maj. Jeff Heady. East of I-75, ask for Maj. Phillip Frazier.