Special Metro police unit aims to crack down on dangerous drivers

Special Reports

You see it in and around Nashville – bad behavior behind the wheel. 

It’s often the driving force behind serious crashes and puts the lives of not only drivers at risk but also that of passengers and others on the road. 

News 2 went on a ride along with Metro-Nashville Police Department’s special unit cracking down on aggressive drivers. 

When you hit the interstates of Middle Tennessee, you’ll quickly find driver after driver failing to follow the rules of the road. 

“Speed limit is 70. She’s at 85 mph talking on her phone,” said Officer Sam Johnson of MNPD’s Aggressive Driver Unit. “I hit my siren, lights on, she’s still right there with us.” 

Excessive speeding, tailgating, frequent lane changing and darting in and out of traffic are among the top violations for Metro police’s aggressive driver unit.  

Its goal is to put the brakes on dangerous driving. 

Lieutenant Michael Gilliland heads the unit. 

“Focusing on those type of behaviors that historically have caused major accidents,” said Gilliland. 
“Driving at these speeds, you’re endangering everyone there is,” added Officer Johnson. 

Johnson has been on the special unit since 2011, and he said bad behavior on the roads has only gotten worse.  

“Absolutely, it’s getting worse because we’re adding more people on the roadway, more people trying to get to where they’re going, jobs, not adhering to any of the speed limits,” he explained.  

Lt. Gilliland said the challenge with enforcement comes from the sheer number of violators.  

“Too many of them, way too many of them,” he said. “It’s an easy problem to correct. Lies within all of us. Rules of the road are there to get on roadways to operate in a safe way.” 

That’s why the unit uses a two-fold approach – part enforcement and part tip line. 

Data shows tips from the public on aggressive drivers grew more than six times since 2010 from 103 to 622. 

“We look at each email,” said Lt. Gilliland.  

The more detailed the tip, the better. 

“We got one last week, in a residential area, about a car speeding 50 mph down a roadway,” said Lt. Gilliland. 

“We talked to gentlemen there, we went out on his complaint,” said Ofc. Johnson. “There were three vehicles, caught two of the vehicles and called him back with the outcome. He was pleased.” 

Lt. Gilliland and Ofc. Johnson said the answer to dangerous driving ultimately depends on drivers’ actions. 

“We understand the frustration,” said Lt. Gilliland. “The laws are in place to alleviate that frustration.” 

Until they get that answer, they said they’ll take every opportunity to educate. 

“Maybe make somewhat of a difference,” said Ofc. Johnson. “You want to affect everyone, but somebody may slow down – and try to save someoneʼs life.” 

To report an aggressive driver, click here

Click here to read more stories from our “Dangerous Drivers” special.

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