Success in the Media

56 officers died in traffic-related events-the science of roadside safety

Dear readers: The issue of roadside safety is of immense importance to law enforcement and fire companies. Did you ever see the videos of police cars hit from behind by drivers going full speed but were distracted enough to plow into standing emergency vehicles? Those of us in the law enforcement community debate what it takes to stay alive during fires and police traffic stops.

While we realize that this article may have limited appeal to some readers, never-the-less we believe that many of you will find the science of officer roadside safety to be of interest. Click on the link below for summations of issues discussed.

And the next time you drive past a police traffic stop; please give the officers and occupants a wide berth. Please slow down. The officer you protect may be the officer who saves your life if you have the misfortune to be involved in a personal injury auto accident.

They are ugly events that stay in the minds of police officers for some time (ever try to stop a five-year-old child from bleeding to death while his parents are unconscious in the front seat?). Ever do this while worrying that someone is going to crash into the vehicle?

Crime in America.Net.

Police Roadside Safety

More law enforcement officers die each year in traffic incidents than from any other cause, including shootings. Many of these deaths occur on the roadside as officers perform their duties.

In 2009, 56 law enforcement officers died in traffic-related events. This figure, which comprises close to 50 percent of the year’s officer fatalities, includes on-duty car and motorcycle crashes and officers struck while outside their vehicles.

Roadside safety concerns all first responders, not just police. In 2008, 28 out of the 118 firefighters who died while on duty were killed in vehicle crashes. Another five firefighters were struck and killed by vehicles that year.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) works in partnership with law enforcement agencies, fire service and other agencies toward the shared goal of increasing safety for law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders as they perform their duties on the nation’s streets and highways.




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