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Improving Officer Safety on the Roadways

NCJ Number
Brian Montgomery
Date Published
November 2018
4 pages
This article describes two projects involving collaboration between the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that have addressed ways to improve officer safety on the roadways.
These projects were launched to counter the leading cause of officer line-of-duty deaths, i.e., officer vehicle collisions and being struck by moving vehicles while working on roadways. The first project undertaken by the NIJ-NIOSH collaboration was an evaluation of a comprehensive police motor vehicle safety program in Las Vegas. Following the deaths of three Las Vegas officers in motor vehicle crashes during a 6-month period, the agency changed its motor vehicle safety program to include specialized driver training; decals on law enforcement vehicles; and officer safety reminders by dispatchers and supervisors, as well as roll calls. The evaluation of the effectiveness of these policies reviewed crash and injury data for 3 years prior to the safety program's launch, the initial year of implementation, and 3 years after its implementation. The evaluation found that 3 years after program implementation, there were no line-of-duty officer fatalities caused by vehicle crashes, and the reduction in motor vehicle injuries and associated lost duty days saved the department an estimated $1.1 million. The second project created a fatality investigation team to examine law enforcement officer fatalities that occur during traffic-related operations. The goal is to identify risk factors for fatal motor vehicle events and develop recommendations for preventing future fatalities and injuries. The team describes in a report the investigated event and contributing factors, followed by recommendations for preventing similar events. As of December 2017, the team had conducted five investigations. Summaries are presented of three investigations in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.