LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY

Police Officer Badge on uniform shirt

Motor vehicle-related incidents are a leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for law enforcement officers in the United States – they are also preventable.1 It is important to promote motor vehicle safety among officers so they can stay safe while working to make communities safer.

Did you know?
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From 2005-2017, 775 officers died due to motor vehicle related incidents (struck by and crashes) – 37% of all line-of-duty deaths. (National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund)

Officer Road Code Toolkit
Officer road code toolkit - document number 2019-100

Use and customize these free materials to promote safe driving practices within an agency.

View the toolkit.

Law Enforcement Infographic
LEO Infographic

Learn how officers can prevent crashes and injuries.

Download the infographicpdf icon

Law Enforcement Animated Image
Crashes are a leading cause of officer line-of-duty deaths. Buckle Up. Slow Down. Focus. Remain Calm. Drive to arrive alive. www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/leo

Promote officer road safety. Download the animated image (GIF) to use as part of safety presentations, or display it on electronic message boards.

What job hazards do law enforcement officers face?

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There are more than 750,000 state and local (excluding federal) law enforcement officers.2 These officers face many job hazards, including: physical exertion, psychological and organizational stressors, and health issues. Some behavior-related hazards that put officers at risk of a crash on the job are:

  • Not wearing a seat belt
  • Speeding, particularly through intersections
  • Being distracted while using a mobile data terminal or other electronic device while driving
  • Experiencing tunnel vision from increased stress

What do we know about law enforcement officer crashes?

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In the last 10 years, on average, more than one officer per week has been killed on our nation’s roads (2006-2016 = 64 deaths per year).1 Most years, motor vehicle-related incidents — including crashes and being struck by moving vehicles while on foot — are the main cause of death for officers. 2016 was an anomaly in that motor vehicle-related deaths came second to firearms.

From 2007-2016:1

  • 1,512 officer line-of-duty deaths
  • 460 officer line-of-duty deaths due to vehicle crashes (30% of total)
  • 130 officer line-of-duty deaths due to being struck by a vehicle (9% of total)

Projects

Surveillance of nonfatal injuries among law enforcement officers

The purpose of this project is to collect detailed data on nonfatal occupational injury and exposure data on law enforcement officers who were injured or exposed on-duty and treated in hospital emergency departments (EDs). The project is funded through an interagency agreement with the National Institute of Justice.

Project contact: Hope M. Tiesman, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-6067; HTiesman@cdc.gov
Project period: 2018-2021

Law Enforcement Officer Motor Vehicle Crash and Struck-by Fatality Investigations

This project is using the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) model to investigate motor vehicle-related occupational fatalities of law enforcement officers in the United States. These investigations are identifying risk factors for fatal motor vehicle-related events that will be used to construct prevention recommendations. These recommendations will be shared with law enforcement agencies across the U.S. with the goal of reducing law enforcement officer motor vehicle-related deaths.

Project contact: Nancy Romano
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-5889; NRomano@cdc.gov

Law Enforcement Officer Motor Vehicle Crash and Struck-by Fatality Investigations: A Pilot Program

This project is using the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) model to investigate motor vehicle-related occupational fatalities of law enforcement officers in the United States. These investigations are identifying risk factors for fatal motor vehicle-related events that will be used to construct prevention recommendations. These recommendations will be shared with law enforcement agencies across the U.S. with the goal of reducing law enforcement officer motor vehicle-related deaths. The project is funded through an interagency agreement with the National Institute of Justice.

Project contact: Paul Moore
Division of Safety Research
Project period: 2014-2017

Evaluation of an Occupational Motor-Vehicle Crash Prevention Program in Law Enforcement

The focus of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of a comprehensive motor-vehicle crash prevention program in a large metropolitan police department to reduce the incidence of motor-vehicle crashes and resulting injuries. The second objective is to develop a plan to encourage other law enforcement agencies to replicate the elements of the program that are discovered to be effective. The project is funded through an interagency agreement with the National Institute of Justice.

Project contact: Hope M. Tiesman, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-6067 HTiesman@cdc.gov
Project period: 2014-2017

Cops & Cars: Reducing LEO Deaths in Motor Vehicle Crashes

This research study identified the perceptions, policies, and practices of law enforcement officers that could affect their use of seatbelts while in patrol vehicles through a comprehensive survey. The final report discusses the prevalence of motor-vehicle crashes, frequency of seatbelt use, barriers to seatbelt use, and recommendations for agencies to reduce motor-vehicle crashes. This information will raise awareness of the importance that motor vehicles play in the mortality of law enforcement officers and further explore methods to increase prevention practices.

Project contact: Hope M. Tiesman, Ph.D.
Division of Safety Research
(304) 285-6067 HTiesman@cdc.gov
Project period: 2009-2012

Resources

Officer Road Code Toolkit
NIOSH Publication No. 2019-100
This toolkit is designed to promote safe driving practices within an agency so that patrol officers operate by a unified code behind the wheel: Drive to Arrive Alive..

Law Enforcement Officer Motor Vehicle Crash and Struck-by Fatality Investigations: A Pilot Program
NIOSH Publication No. 2017-121
This flyer provides information about the program’s investigations and reports.

Fact Sheet: Preventing Work-Related Motor Vehicle Crashes
NIOSH Publication No. 2015-111
This fact sheet recommends ways employers can keep workers safe when driving or riding in a motor vehicle on the job. It outlines components of a successful motor vehicle safety program and ends with a checklist that employers can use to implement the recommendations.

Take Charge of Your Safety In and Around Your Patrol Vehicle
NIOSH Publication No.2015-109 (February 2015)
This flyer gives law enforcement officers five recommendations to reduce their risk of a motor-vehicle crash while on-duty.

Law Enforcement Officer Motor Vehicle Safety
NIOSH Publication No. 2015-101 (November 2014)
This document provides state-level stakeholders with an overview of the findings from a NIOSH project that gathered information on the number and severity of motor-vehicle events in the state of Iowa (crashes and struck-by injuries). It also provides data on specific occupational safety and health training, policies and procedures, and officers’ perceptions of this training and policies, seat-belt usage, and officers’ perceptions of risky work-related driving situations. Approaches for increasing and improving motor-vehicle training, information for policy implementation, and other approaches to increase law enforcement officer driving safety while on the job are also included.

Officer dies in motor vehicle crash at an intersection while responding to a shots fired call – South Carolina
Report No. LEO 2016-03
This report details the investigation of the line-of-duty-death of a 37 year-old old municipal police officer as a result of a multi-vehicle collision at a city roadway intersection while responding to a shots fired call. The report describes the circumstances surrounding the incident, contributing factors to the outcome, and recommends interventions for consideration by law enforcement agencies, state and local governments and departments of transportation nationwide.

Trooper Crashes on Roadway While Responding to Reckless Driver Complaint—Kentucky
Report No. LEO 2016-02
This report details the investigation of the line-of-duty-death of a 23 year-old state police trooper as a result of losing control of his vehicle in a curve and was struck by an oncoming tractor trailer. The report describes the circumstances surrounding the incident, contributing factors to the outcome, and recommends interventions for consideration by law enforcement agencies, state and local governments and departments of transportation nationwide.

Officer Struck By a Motorhome While Establishing Temporary Traffic Control on Interstate—Tennessee
Report No. LEO 2016-01
This report details the investigation of the line-of-duty-death of a 25 year-old police officer as a result of being struck by a motorhome after responding to a crash involving a pickup truck/trailer combination on an interstate highway. The report describes the circumstances surrounding the incident, contributing factors to the outcome, and recommends interventions for consideration by law enforcement agencies, state and local governments and departments of transportation nationwide.

Trooper Struck By Vehicle While Investigating Crash on Interstate Highway—Oklahoma
Report No. LEO 2015-01
This report details the investigation of the line-of-duty-death of a highway patrol officer as a result of being struck by a distracted driver after responding to a crash involving a tanker truck on an interstate highway.  The report describes the circumstances surrounding the incident, contributing factors to the outcome, and recommends interventions for consideration by law enforcement agencies, state and local governments and departments of transportation nationwide.

Sergeant Struck by a Motor Vehicle on Interstate Highway—New Mexico
Report No. LEO 2014-01
This report details the investigation of the line-of-duty death of a sheriff’s office sergeant as a result of being struck by a motorist while working several motor vehicle crashes an interstate highway. The report describes the circumstances surrounding the incident, contributing factors to the outcome, and recommends interventions for consideration by law enforcement agencies, state and local governments and departments of transportation nationwide.

Page last reviewed: September 30, 2019