MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, and TENNESSEE – Drivers beware. Rangers will now be using unmarked vehicles to patrol the Natchez Trace Parkway (Parkway). After a six month pilot program showed a dramatic increase in the number of traffic stops for distracted and aggressive driving, the decision was made to order additional unmarked units. The order includes both typical and non-typical law enforcement vehicles such as full size SUVs and pickup trucks.
“They are not all white in color either,” said Chief Ranger Sarah Davis. “Some of the vehicles might be black, silver, blue, red, or even green. We are not trying to be tricky, we just want to make sure drivers are not on their phones and they are driving the speed limit.”
For anyone with concerns about so called blue-light bandits, or people pretending to be police officers, don’t worry. These vehicles will blend into day to day traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated. “You will definitely know it’s a law enforcement officer,” said District Ranger and vehicle coordinator John Hearne. “These vehicles will have multiple flashing red and blue lights, headlights and grill lights; it will look like a police Christmas tree when they light up.”
Since the Parkway travels through three states, law enforcement ranger vehicles use both red and blue lights instead of just blue lights which are standard in Mississippi. Rangers use both colors because red lights are easier to see in the daylight and blue at night. Safety is the number one priority on the Parkway and the multi colored lights make it safer for both the Ranger and drivers.