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Back to Archives | Back to April 2004 Contents 


Ronald Dean Smith 1928–2004
IACP Employee 1959–1985

Ronald Dean Smith
Ronald Dean Smith
Ronald Dean Smith, 76, of Reston, Virginia, chief of staff operations at the International Association of Chiefs of Police from 1980 to 1985, died January 22, 2004, at his home.

Smith served in the U.S. Navy from 1948 to1952. He graduated from University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor of arts in criminology in 1956 and a master's degree in criminology in 1961. He served on the Oakland, California, Police Department from 1956 to 1959.

Smith left the Oakland Police Department to work for IACP's traffic safety and field service division, which was located with the Traffic Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. In the fall of 1959, the IACP traffic safety and field service division moved to Washington, D.C.

As the association's staff increased, so did Smith's responsibilities. From 1963 to 1967 Smith was the director of the research division; from 1967 through 1971 he was director of the association's management and research division.

In 1972 he had oversight of the IACP office move from downtown Washington, D.C., to a new building in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The offices in Gaithersburg served as the association's headquarters until November 1988, when the association relocated to Virginia.

From 1971 to 1976 Smith served as director of the professional standards division. In 1976 he assumed charge of all of the administrative and support functions of the corporation. In 1980 he was formally titled the chief of staff operations, the second executive position for the association. Smith retired from the IACP in 1985.

In retirement Smith served with the Loudoun County, Virginia, Agency on Aging. While at IACP and in his retirement years, Smith served on the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Retirement Board.

Ron Smith is survived by his wife Joan, daughter Lisa Arbelaez, Columbia, Maryland; sons Dirk Smith of Clifton, Virginia, and Eric Smith of Cary, North Carolina; and grandchildren Gregory and Christopher Arbelaez and Antony Smith.

Misconceptions on Truck Crashes

Although most drivers believe most fatal crashes involving large trucks and passenger vehicles occur on interstate highways, 75 percent of all crashes occurred on other types of roadways, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's 2001 Large Truck Crash Facts,

The Center for Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University conducted two surveys to help identify areas of misperception among drivers so that initiatives can be developed to address actual safety-related conditions on the roadways.

When asked who they believe is at fault in these truck-and-automobile crashes, 67 percent of the truck drivers pinned the blame on passenger vehicle drivers, but only five percent felt truck drivers were to blame. Thirty-four percent of the passenger vehicle respondents put the blame on their fellow drivers while 15 percent blamed truck drivers. Approximately 30 percent of both groups feel that both truck and vehicle drivers are equally at fault.

Crash data, however, show passenger vehicles are more often at fault in truck-passenger vehicle crashes than truck drivers. In the truck-passenger vehicle crashes occurring in 2001, 65 percent of passenger vehicle drivers were cited for crash-related factors while 37 percent of truck drivers were cited. The studies also show that 85 percent of truck drivers think they drive at least somewhat safely. Only 42 percent of these truck drivers feel that passenger vehicle drivers drive safely. And their opinion of SUV drivers isn't much better. Only 45 percent of truck drivers felt that SUV drivers operate their vehicles at least somewhat safely.

Truck drivers—78 percent—think their fellow drivers operate at least somewhat aggressively around passenger vehicles. But the overwhelming majority of truck drivers—94 percent—feel passenger vehicle operators drive aggressively around big trucks.

Almost 90 percent of both truck and passenger vehicle drivers rate passenger bus drivers as at least somewhat safe drivers. And 51 percent of both groups do not think bus drivers operate aggressively around passenger vehicles.

On the other hand, 68 percent of passenger vehicle drivers think they drive at least somewhat safely and 69 percent of them rate SUV drivers as safe drivers. Of these respondents, 73 percent felt truck drivers operate at least somewhat aggressively around passenger vehicles.

The two studies were conducted on behalf of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and a multistate consortium representing Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and North Carolina. The consortium was created to identify motor carrier safety issues in these states and to make recommendations for corrective actions. The studies were conducted as part of the research phase. Responses were gathered from 626 drivers from 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, and 2,415 drivers from the four consortium states.

To review the study, go to

For more information, write to Michael D. Pratt, Ph.D, director of the VCU Center for Urban Development, at, or call or write to Mike Frontiero of University News Services at 804-828-2725 or

Peer-to-Peer Program on Traffic Control Devices

With more than 700 pages of guidelines, standards, and options in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), applying the manual to unique local settings and circumstances can require some help.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has established a peer-to-peer program on traffic control devices (P2P TCD) as a resource of technical assistance for public sector agencies. The P2P TCD program is designed to speed up the process of getting peers connected and working together to solve traffic control problems.

It is also designed to provide a way to get answers about signage, traffic signals, roadway markings, work-zone traffic control, and more. The peer-to-peer program can help agency staff obtain technical advice quickly and conveniently from their professional colleagues. This assistance will in turn help agencies and the traveling public realize the full benefits of improved safety and optimized traffic performance.

The P2P TCD has been active since January 2003 and has already demonstrated numerous effective examples of peers helping peers. For example, in Hughson, California, the guidance was requested in placing traffic signals at a difficult five-point intersection with an adjacent railroad. A peer with extensive experience with the situation, and knowledgeable in the application of the guidelines, standards, and options in the MUTCD and other documents, was able to provide the necessary information to guide the decision-making process. This is just one of the many successful collaborations brought about by the P2P TCD program.

The P2P TCD program is easy to use: send an email to, or call toll-free 888-700-PEER (7337). The program coordinator will select a peer from the volunteer database who is able to answer your question and have the peer contact you directly. To learn more about acting as a peer on a less formal basis and to participate in informal discussions, visit the discussion area on the MUTCD Web site at .

New Edition of Local Government Police Management

The International City/County Management Association has released a new edition of Local Government Police Management. Since the publication of the first edition more than 60 years ago, this book has become a classic in the field and the authoritative police management resource. It provides insights to help police chiefs anticipate emerging issues and problems and map out an effective management strategy for their departments.

To obtain the latest edition, visit ICMA's bookstore online at or call 800-745-8780.

Teenage Robbers Are More Dangerous

A study by Dr. Rosemary J. Erickson of 178 incarcerated robbers age 13 to 18 found that teenage robbers have bravado beyond that of adults, believing they can do anything with a partner and a gun. Half of teenage robbers say they are drunk or high at the time of robbery.

Other findings show that the most important thing teens look for is an escape route, followed by money. There are likely more injury or death incidents with teenage robbers than with adult robbers. The teenagers also are more likely to commit more violent types of robberies, including street muggings, carjackings, and home invasion. The teens were more nervous than the adults during the robberies; and this nervousness contributed to their being more dangerous than adult robbers.

Implications of the research for prevention efforts are (1) reduce the money available; (2) make sure the robbers know that there is little money available before they rob; (3) have barriers that block escape routes; and (4) make it clear that there is an increased risk of being caught.

For more information on the research findings, visit .


From The Police Chief, vol. 71, no. 4, April 2004. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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