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RESPONSE TO ROAD RAGE NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

At the end of December, I had the terrifying experience of becoming a victim of road rage in Buffalo's University District. The worst part of the ordeal was that I was alone in my car during the incident and the police never responded.

As the other driver hooked the rear bumper of his car under the front panel of my vehicle, I called 911 on my car phone. I sat in the intersection with his vehicle hooked to mine for about 10 minutes, until it was clear there would be no police response. I then pulled over to exchange information. Without an intermediary present, I felt very threatened getting out of my car.

After four more calls to 911 within the hour, I was told to drive to a police station to fill out an accident report. When I spoke with an officer, I was informed 911 operators grouped my call in with other accidents and that accidents tend to be a low priority for response. There are a few points worthy of clarification.

Road rage is not an accident. An accident is a chance event. Road rage is a purposeful act intended to intimidate or harm another driver. Numerous cases of assaults and even murder have resulted from such incidents. Operators from 911 should ask more questions to determine whether an incident is truly a chance event before lumping it in with all other accidents.

During my first call to 911, I encountered an answering machine message explaining that all lines were busy. When the operator did answer, she did not ask probing questions.

Not all accidents are alike. Sometimes an accident results in injury, or a vehicle may not be drivable. Occasionally, a medical reason contributes to the accident, which merits a rapid response. In my case, there was a very irrational person involved.

Taxpayers pay for police response. As a city resident, a taxpayer and a female who often drives alone at night, I was appalled that after phoning the police five times in one hour there was no response. What is the message being sent to us from city government?

CHERYL CANFIELD

Buffalo

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