Theodore's World: Strip Joe Biden of His Motorcade? by Daniel Freedman

« Keith Olbermann Has Been Suspended Indefinitely Without Pay | Main | Nancy Pelosi to Run for House Minority Leader »

November 06, 2010

Strip Joe Biden of His Motorcade? by Daniel Freedman

Strip Joe Biden of His Motorcade?

by Daniel Freedman

Since the Obama administration announced a series of measures in October last year to put an end to distracted driving, including an executive order directed at federal employees, Vice-President Joe Biden’s motorcade has been involved in at least five crashes. That’s an unusually high number for such a motorcade.

In August, after Mr. Biden met New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion, two New York City police motorcycles escorting the Vice-President were involved in an accident. That followed a high profile crash in February, in which figure skating Olympic gold medalist Peggy Fleming and former bobsled champion Vonetta Flowers were injured. The two athletes were riding in the Vice-President’s motorcade at the Vancouver Olympics when the rear vehicle of the motorcade hit the back of a second vehicle, knocking it into a third car.

Last November, while Mr. Biden was on his way to appear on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, a police car escorting him collided with a cab, injuring officers and occupants of the other car. (While the Vice-President didn’t mention the crash during his appearance, he did joke that having roads cleared for him was a big perk. “Hell, I’ve never driven in New York with no traffic before,” he told Mr. Stewart.)

That November, cars from Mr. Biden’s motorcade were also involved in two other reported accidents: A Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy escorting the motorcade was injured in a collision; and in Maryland two cars that were part of the Vice-President’s security detail hit (and killed) a pedestrian. These five incidents are just the reported ones; it’s possible that there are others as well.

While it’s not uncommon for presidential and vice-presidential motorcades to be involved in crashes, it is rare. There are usually just one or two reported incidents in eight years in office. So what’s worrying about Mr. Biden is the high number of incidents his motorcade has already had, still less than two years into the job.

How motorcades operate (and the number of cars involved) depend on the location and an evaluation of potential threats. Local police are brought in to help map out routes, and in complex situations motorcycle cops are directed to ride ahead to block traffic. (In less risky situations, it’s just a series of cars, although the president usually always travels with a counterassault team, decoys, and an ambulance.)

Accidents are normally rare because while the motorcades do move at fast speeds, the drivers and riders assigned to them are the very best available. They are trained to operate at high speeds through traffic, and are known to be calm, professional, and safe. Sources familiar with presidential motorcades say that if an accident happens it’s probably because the riders are distracted, or because someone – whether the principal or staff – are urging them to speed up and not be late.

Distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was the cause of nearly 5,500 deaths and 450,000 injuries last year. And officials believe that the actual figure is higher as police reports often don’t document whether distracted driving was a factor. So it’s commendable that the Obama administration has been battling distracted driving, including telling federal employees to lead by example. (The president’s executive order instructed the country’s four million federal employees not to text message while driving in government cars or while conducting government business.)

The campaign against distracted driving has also gained celebrity endorsements. The Jonas Brothers have been involved in a no-texting-while-driving campaign, and Oprah Winfrey has launched a “no phone pledge,” receiving the support of fellow celebrities like Sandra Bullock, Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, and the cast of Glee.

When President Obama signed the executive order, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared:

“This order sends a very clear signal to the American public that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable. It shows that the federal government is leading by example.”

Whether distracted driving or something else is causing the high number of incidents involving Mr. Biden’s motorcade, it’s still dangerous and unacceptable – and it’s setting the wrong example.


Wild Thing's comment.........

My gosh, I wonder if Biden is doing the driving.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at November 6, 2010 03:47 AM


I wonder if the Secret Service guys have trouble keeping a straight face around Joe the Gaffe.

Posted by: TomR, armed in Texas at November 6, 2010 09:54 AM

Have to wonder what's going on behind thos blacked out windows. Hmmmmmm.

Posted by: Sean at November 6, 2010 11:46 AM

Tom, good point, I bet it is hard a lot of the time.

Sean, yes especially since it is so unusal to have to many accidents and mishaps. odd

Posted by: Wild Thing at November 7, 2010 04:07 AM