According to the Arkansas Driver License Study Guide, drivers who feel unsafe pulling over when a police officer signals them to do so with flashing lights and sirens should slow down and put on their hazard lights, then pull over at the first place they feel comfortable doing so.
According to the Arkansas State Police, if you don’t pull over immediately, you’re clearly fleeing the police and subject to a PIT maneuver.
This disparity between the instructions drivers receive and the actions of state law enforcement is the basis for a lawsuit surrounding this particular incident.
In the video, taken from Senior Corporal Rodney Dunn’s dashcam, you’ll see driver Nicole Harper slow down, turn on her flashers, and straddle the very narrow shoulder of the freeway to give the indication that she acknowledges the officer’s signals. You’ll also see that Dunn waits approximately two minutes before executing a PIT maneuver, which results in Harper’s SUV flipping, sliding across three lanes of traffic, and crashing into the highway median. Technically speaking, that’s not what’s supposed to happen.
According to Arkansas State Police Colonel Bill Bryant, officers are absolutely encouraged to use PIT maneuvers when drivers don’t pull over immediately, despite the instructions drivers receive in the state Driver License Study Guide. Though Harper did what she thought she was supposed to do, she found herself flipped across three lanes of freeway and slammed into a concrete median wall. Also of note: She was pregnant at the time of the accident and, according to reports, suffered severe bodily injury. She is suing the officer for unnecessary force and negligence.
The Arkansas State Police deemed Dunn’s actions appropriate for the situation, and he is still a valued member of the force.
In 2020, Arkansas State Police executed 144 PIT maneuvers, three of which resulted in fatalities. According to nationwide data, there have been a total of 30 deaths resulting from PIT maneuvers since 2016. Based on the data, it appears that PIT deaths are disproportionately high in Arkansas.
Therefore, if you find yourself speeding in Arkansas– and you probably shouldn’t — pull over immediately, even if you feel unsafe. The consequences could be deadly.