A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
US: Driver aims laser pointer at motorist, causes own accident
The accident began when Scott Socea, 46, was driving behind a woman on Highway 138 in Phelan, San Bernardino County, California. Socea was allegedly upset that the woman was driving too slow. He passed her, merged in front of her, then stepped on his brakes. The woman flashed her headlights.
According to police, Socea then aimed a laser pointer with green light "directly" into the woman's eyes. The woman was blinded by the light, could not see, and rear-ended Socea's car.
There were no injuries.
Police were able to recover the laser pointer as evidence. Socea was cited for brandishing a weapon.
From KTLA News and Fox 11 News, and an October 8 press release from the Victor Valley Sheriff's Department
Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: This is one of the very few incidents where laser light aimed at a driver caused, or was a contributing factor, to a vehicular accident. We have documented perhaps two or three since 2000, with a few more additional reports that are unverified.
For more information, see Non-aviation incident news items tagged Car, Driver, Motorist, and Road rage.
Thank you to Greg Makhov for bringing this to our attention.
US: Woman uses laser gunsight to play with cat; gun goes off and hits man
The teen was charged with negligent use of a weapon. The man was charged with violating bond conditions that prevented him from having a weapon.
From AP News. Thank you to Greg Makhov for bringing this to our attention.
US: Man in car aims laser gun sight at runner; later shoots motorist
Police were able to find the runner. At the time, he had thought that kids were playing around with a laser pointer. A detective said "He remembers the incident. He thought it was just some kids playing around with a laser pointer. So when I told him — and I actually showed him the video — he was shocked. He could not believe it.”
Police saw other social media with the same gun. They determined the owner was 19-year-old Traviance Polite Jr. They began surveillance to try and catch him with the gun.
They were not able to do so before an armed assault on April 6 2021. In a possible road rage incident, Polite fired twice from his car, over his pregnant girlfriend in the passenger seat, through the passenger window and into a neighboring car. The driver of that car was badly hurt and went to a hospital.
Traviance Polite Jr.
Polite was arrested the next day and provided police with a full confession to both crimes.
He charged with attempted second-degree murder, shooting from a vehicle, reckless display of a gun, carrying a concealed gun, and possession of a gun by a known delinquent.
Singapore: Woman claims laser harassment as a result of accident
In December 2015 Chan Hui Peng, then 42 years old, fell into a manhole maintained by Singapore's National Water Agency, known as "PUB". She landed on her rear. PUB officers took her to a hospital where she was diagnosed with trauma, hip bruises, and a broken ankle. For the next four months she went to a rehabilitation hospital.
Beginning in March 2016 she had mental issues, including headaches, a PTSD diagnosis in March 2017, claims of paranoia in October 2018, a diagnosis of schizophrenia in February 2020, and sometime in 2020 "she said she felt the heat from laser beams while she was on her bed."
Her lawsuit, containing thousands of pages of medical and clinical notes, asks for SGD $5 million (USD $3.76 million).
A lawyer for PUB's insurer said Chan "has made a mountain out of a molehill and has seized the opportunity to capitalize on the injuries she allegedly sustained." He disputed claims for loss of future earnings and future medical expenses.
From the Straits Times
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM
Madame Chen's claim of feeling heat from (almost certainly nonexistent) laser beams is a common symptom of persons claiming laser harassment.
About 10-15 times a year, we receive a call or email from persons saying they are harassed by persons aiming lasers at them. In most cases there appears to be no reasonable external explanation. The feelings of heat, light and/or paranoia must be coming from within the person. Unfortunately, their symptoms, pain and fear are real to the sufferer.
This is discussed at greater length on our page If you are harassed by lasers, in the sections about unknown and mysterious laser sources.
Our conclusion is that Madame Chen is not making up the "heat from laser beam" complaint. She really does feel hot spots — but there is almost certainly no laser involved. Instead, this is one of the symptoms of her mental condition, along with the paranoia that also often accompanies claims of mysterious laser heat and light.
US: Man crushed, killed in industrial laser cutting machine
He was trapped for about an hour and was conscious during the rescue. He died after being transported by ambulance to a hospital.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate the death.
From Boston 25 News
US: Police officer playing with laser pointer on Taser forgets that Taser is armed; tases colleague
On March 27 2018, Officer Dan Sells of the Lafayette (Indiana) Police Department was in a hospital conference room for a debriefing, along with two other officers and a dispatcher. Sells and another officer disarmed their Taser stun guns and began shining the Taser’s laser pointer (used for aiming) at the dispatcher.
Sells became distracted for a few minutes. He then picked up the Taser, intending to continue the laser pointer horseplay. However he forgot he had armed the Taser. When he pulled the trigger to turn on the laser pointer, the Taser fired, sending the electric prongs into the dispatcher’s foot.
He received a five-day suspension for unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, misuse of department equipment and misusing a weapon.
On May 30 2018 Sells agreed to a 10-day suspension for apparently unrelated charges (in a separate incident) of unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, and violating evidence-gathering procedures.
From the Journal & Courier
UK: Man assaulted with laser pen, falls, requires surgery
Police said that the victim “is likely to have to undergo surgery to repair damage caused to his back following this incident.”
The attack happened at about 9:20 pm on April 23 2017. Police did not release details until May 4.
From the Dorset Echo
US: Multi-car crash due to laser being aimed at driver
The accident occurred at about 5:30 am on October 25 2016. Miranda Senters, 18, was driving her new car, bought one week prior, when the driver in front of her aimed a green laser beam over his shoulder towards her. Senters told KGW News “I just kept going back and forth a little bit, trying to keep out of the light.” The laser driver then went behind Senters’ car and aimed into the rear-view mirror: “…he’s shining it from the back of me into my eyes and I couldn’t see.”
Senters tried to get away but the other driver weaved in and out of lanes to keep up with her. While trying to avoid the light, Senters swerved to the shoulder and spun out. The other car crashed into her. A third driver hit a barrier when trying to avoid the stopped vehicles.
The laser car, an older Honda Civic, left the scene. In an Instagram post, state police asked the public to help them find the Civic.
State police photo showing Senters’ car with driver side damage, at the scene on Interstate 5.
Senters later told KPTV “He had a little laser and was trying to get it through my front window. I went blind because a green laser light — like my eyes still hurt from that, I can still see it…. I don’t understand how it’s a joke. It could have killed me.”
From KGW and KPTV. Thank you to George Palikaras for bringing this to our attention.
Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: This is the first well-documented case we’re aware of where a laser pointer aimed at a driver directly caused a crash. There was a fatal crash in 1998 which was partially blamed on a laser pointer, and an indirect reference to a three-car accident in 1999. There have also been a number of near-accidents and other car-related laser incidents which are listed here.
US: Tennessee man "nearly causes accident' aiming laser pointer at cars on Interstate
A motorist called 911 to report that a male in the front passenger seat of a silver Honda was shining the laser onto cars and trucks. The caller said the laser made it difficult to see, and almost caused a crash involving an 18-wheel truck and another vehicle. The Honda was traveling northbound on I-75 in Bradley County, east of Chattanooga.
Officers located the car, where Gary Dewayne Couey admitted aiming the laser at other vehicles. He was arrested on a charge of felony reckless endangerment. The driver of the car, 34-year-old Brandi Rapier, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
Gary Dewayne Couey
From WDEF, the Chattanoogan, and the Times Free Press
Canada: Laser pointer aimed at motorist causes near-accident
The July 6 story was about an air ambulance helicopter that was targeted by a laser on July 4. Police were searching for the perpetrator.
From the Simcoe Informer. This item was of interest to LaserPointerSafety.com since we have heard of only a couple of reports where laser light caused a potential driving accident. As of July 6 2015, we have not heard of an actual accident caused by persons aiming laser light at vehicle drivers.
US: Kentucky police shoot man who aimed gun, laser pointer at them
Police executing a search warrant at an Eddyville home knocked on the door and identified themselves. John C. Smith came to the door, and aimed the gun and pointer at them. Police told him several times to drop the gun. He refused and was shot in the abdomen.
He lived but was taken to the intensive care unit at a Paducah hospital.
Police found crystal meth, several guns and a “large amount of cash” at the home.
US: 3-car accident in Springfield Missouri said to be caused by laser light
Ordinance 4880 has an attached “Explanation to Amended Council Bill No. 99-61” which gives some reasons for the city’s restrictions on laser use and possession. One of the “local abuses” cited is the following:
- “Another offense includes a three-car collision, where a young man pointed a laser light into the car ahead of him and startled the driver, causing him to slam on his brakes and cause a pileup.”