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 From 2011-2020, 454 officers died due to motor vehicle related incidents (struck by and crashes) – 33% of all line-of-duty deaths (excluding COVID-19 deaths)2. It is important to promote motor vehicle safety among officers so they can stay safe while working to make communities safer.

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 in-care electronics
  • Experiencing tunnel vision from increased stress

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NIOSH numbered document 2021-122 Law Enforcement Agencies: How to Protect Motor Vehicle Collisions

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What do we know about law enforcement officer crashes?

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In the last 10 years, on average, an officer per week has been killed on our nation’s roads (2011-2020 = 50 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. Since 2016, homicides have been leading cause of death.

From 2011-2020, excluding COVID-19 deaths:1

  • 1,387 officer line-of-duty deaths
  • 286 officer line-of-duty deaths due to vehicle crashes (21% of total)
  • 114 officer line-of-duty deaths due to being struck by a vehicle (8% of total)

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Page last reviewed: September 20, 2021