An interview with Law Enforcement Officer at Lakewood Police Department: Neil Thibodeaux, Accident Investigator


Cole: Hi Neil, my name is Cole Kaucheck and I am an industrial design student conducting research for my senior year thesis project. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to take part in this interview. To begin, may I ask how long have you been involved in Law Enforcement?

Neil: “I have been in Law Enforcement for 19 years. I spent 8 years as an Accident Investigator, and I am now currently working in Narcotics.” 

Cole: Over the years, how often do you deal with car collisions per week?

Neil: “There is at least on traffic accident daily in the city of Lakewood, which also includes what would be considered minor collisions, hit skips, and severe.”

Cole: Would you mind elaborating a little bit on what exactly those terms mean?

Neil: Minor collisions are exactly what they sound like, small fender benders where there are not any injuries are reported. Hit skips, happen when a collision occurs but the driver fled the scene before law enforcement could arrive. Severe collisions are also what they sound like, serious accidents with injury and damage to vehicles.” 

Cole: Aside from drunk driving, have you noticed any certain behavior that has lead to most vehicle collisions?

Neil: “Most traffic accidents are caused by the inattention of the drivers. Distracted driving due to eating, texting, talking on the cell, and any other activity where the driver takes their focus off of the road.” 

Cole: In terms of car collisions, what have you found to be the leading causes when it comes to distracted driving?

Neil: “Leading causes? Easily cell phones are the leading distraction. It is extremely common to watch vehicles stopped at a red light and observe the drivers looking down on their cell. Obviously, not paying attention to other traffic and surroundings.”

Cole: Have you noticed a spike in car collisions since smartphones have become so prevalent?

Neil: Obviously, with cell phone usage, there has been a spike, due to the inattention of drivers. This also causes more severe crashes on the highway with higher speeds.”

Cole: From your perspective, have you noticed drivers making an effort to abide by Texting and Driving laws? Or do you think they are just getting smarter about hiding it?

Neil: “The new technology in the vehicles is helping, but I believe texting (cell usage) is becoming commonplace while driving.”

Cole: In your opinion, do you see any possible solution to distracted driving?

Neil: “Maybe sticker penalties if caught. I know there are apps that do not allow cell usage while driving unless there is an emergency.”