MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile Police motorcycle officers are noticing more drivers paying less attention during Mardi Gras in the 2023 season. Officers reported four accidents involving police motorcycles so far this season, and three of those were caused by people who pulled out in front of a bike.
Mobile Police put in a lot of work making sure motorcycle officers are prepared for Mardi Gras parades.
“The training that we do is to hopefully prepare you for the what-if game, if something happens, you’ll be prepared to take action,” said Corporal Ryan Blakely.
It’s something that officers said has already happened more than once.
Lieutenant John Angle said, “We’ve had a few incidents already this year during the Mardi Gras season and it’s where other drivers were not paying attention. And pulled out in front of the officers on the motorcycle, who run with their lights on.”
He continued, “A lot of people see the float as an inconvenience when they’re going so slow and they’re trying to cut through and it jeopardizes the safety of the officer who may be coming from the back, back up to the front to catch another threat.”
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Lieutenant Angle said that the department’s annual Mardi Gras training helps, but this year he’s noticing more people who are not paying attention.
“The reaction time getting when somebody pulls out in front of an officer, we’re trying to do in a break escape like that,” said Lieutenant Angle. “That has really helped on a couple of incidents this year. But it’s not, it can’t be a solution to everything.”
WKRG News 5 reached out to Mobile Police for details concerning the accidents.
In an email, a spokesperson for the department said in part, “There have been at least four accidents involving MPD motorcycles this Mardi Gras season, with three of them resulting from people pulling out in front of an officer. Fortunately, there were no severe injuries, but it is still a concern, and we are taking steps to improve safety measures for our officers.”
According to the department, the motorcycles sustained damage in the accidents.
The day of testing and training before Fat Tuesday gives officers the chance to sharpen their skills. Officers weave through the course and take care to steer clear of the cones that are close together.
Corporal Blakely said, “Anywhere from 3 to 5 feet, you know, as if going through like a gate in a yard. Being able to look through the gate and go out the gate.”
Hitting one cone costs two points and knocking one over is worth three. Officers only pass if they have less than 21 points and complete the course in less than three minutes and five seconds.
Lieutenant Angle said, “Just to get your certification, it’s a two-week process.”
It’s a lot of work, long hours, and difficult, but Mobile’s motorcycle officers said it’s what they love to do.
“We enjoy it. If we didn’t enjoy Mardi Gras, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be putting the work into it that we do in order to ride one of these things to make it work,” said Lieutenant Angle.