Who's in the car behind you?

February 29, 2008 6:12:29 PM PST
It's a creative method to get dangerous drivers off the street. Houston police are using so-called "stealth cars." The first few cars hit Houston streets a couple of weeks ago. They look nothing like an ordinary patrol car. These vehicles were designed with just one thing in mind -- to catch reckless drivers off guard.

Houston's highways are packed with them, and chances are you've encountered one.

Driver Kathy Genung said, "I've had people run up on the back of my fender and they are honking. They give inappropriate gestures."

Aggressive drivers aren't just dangerous, they are often times destructive.

"There is so much anger in people these days," said driver Yolanda Cameron. "They just don't have time to slow down and enjoy life."

Just this month, police say racing led to a crash in north Houston. A street race left one man in critical condition after his car slammed into a utility pole -- a wreck that left thousands of people without power for hours. Enter the stealth car -- HPD's newest weapon to get dangerous drivers off the street.

HPD Sgt. D. Thomas said, "When you come up on it, you may not know it's a police car, but it is a fully marked Houston police car."

That's the idea. Each car is equipped with radar, cameras, a siren and plenty of flashing lights. The big difference here is that police use reflective tape decals on the outside.

"When you look right at it, you may not see it, but at nighttime they are pretty reflective," Sgt. Thomas explained.

Make no mistake, uniformed officers will be driving the stealth cars. From aggressive drivers and speeders to street racers and drunk drivers, they'll target every major freeway within Houston city limits.

Last year 234 people were killed on Houston roadways. Of that number, 64 died in freeway traffic fatalities. The drivers in 22 of those wrecks were intoxicated.

Sgt. Thomas advised, "Be aware, the car behind you that you may not know as a police car could easily be a police car."

White Dodge Chargers make up most of HPD's stealth car fleet. Police tell us aggressive drivers often commit multiple traffic violations when they are pulled over. Each offense carries an average fine of $200.

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