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It’s been over a month since Cpl. Andy Pringle was hit by a drunk driver during a routine traffic stop. The community support for Cpl. Pringle has grown tremendously.
“He’s a great guy and he’s been my go to guy for years there, and a good friend. We miss him and wish him a very speedy recovery,”WV State Trooper Sgt. James Stout with the Harrisville Detachment said.
On Sunday, the Blue Knights and Clarksburg Elks held a charity dinner at the Village Sqaure Conference Center. More than 200 people attended the dinner to raise money for Cpl. Pringle’s hospital expenses.
Sgt. James Stout said that the accident has also prompted changes at the state level.
“The state has enacted some laws that will help us as far as getting traffic to move over and yield their speed a little bit when they see us on the highway,” Stout said.
Researchers say police lights may be one reason those types of accidents happen.
In Cpl. Pringle’s case, the driver was allegedly drunk, which is likely the main reason for the accident.
It also happened at night, when it was raining, on a two-lane highway. All of those factors played into the crash.
But according to some research, what type of lights a police department is using could play a role in safety.
Big, bright, colorful police lights: they are designed to be seen from a distance, to warn drivers of emergency activity. So, why do police continue to face dangers of on-coming traffic?
“I think a lot of it has to do with public’s interest in what we are doing. I think it is a natural human response, when they drive by a vehicle that’s stopped, to look and see what’s going on. And it’s actually part of people’s motor functions. You steer the vehicle in the direction you are looking,” explained WV State Trooper Sgt. James Stout with the Harrisville Detachment.
West Virginia University professor David Martinelli agrees. He specializes in transportation engineering and highway safety and traffic operations.
He said drivers tend to go in the direction they are looking. But he say’s there is more to it than that, and the police lights could also be creating a subconscious reaction.
“There have been some studies in several states, that show, indeed vehicles are drawn to these lights. So, as you are distracted by the red, blue, while, you are more likely, particularly if you are drunk, fatigued, or elderly, to be drawn into the vehicle,” said Martinelli.
Several departments are combating that reaction by making changes to their lights, said Martinelli. Many are going away from the high-intensity strobe lights, changing the location of the lights on the cruiser and reconsidering the light color.