Dear Department Leader,
Thank you for taking an interest in the dangers of distracted driving by police officers. The following page will guide you and your officers in discussing the dangers of distracted driving and ways to help reduce the associated risks.
Police officers’ jobs are becoming increasingly complex. Officers are responding to calls for service that quite often require them to talk on their police radios and cell phones and type on the vehicle’s mobile data terminals all while they are driving. The outcome of this type of multitasking while driving can be tragic.
With GPS navigation, incoming texts, cell-phone calls, onboard infotainment systems, traditional car stereos, and more, it is not surprising that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asserts that the numbers of distractions available to drivers “create enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads.”
Distracted driving can cause accidents and injuries. How can your agency reduce distractions behind the wheel of a patrol car?
Consider the following:
- Standardize two officers per car, which would allow one officer to drive and a partner to deal with everything else.
- Install technology that will shut down a car when it reaches a certain speed.
- Install "heads up" displays.
- Design the interior of squad vehicles to provide officers with easier, less distracting access to equipment.
- Install hands-free technology that provides officers with voice-activated commands to operate their lights and sirens and allows them to speak without holding a microphone.
Understanding the impact of driving distractions on an officer’s performance as well as ways officers and leaders can mitigate the risks associated with distracted driving is a key element to safe vehicle operation.
Roll Call Reminder
This Roll Call Reminder discusses the hazards of distracted driving. The intent is to have a department leader or designated team member read the reminder aloud to the team. After hearing the message, work together to answer and respond to the questions that follow. To conclude the conversation, it is important that you acknowledge the hazards you face when it comes to driving distractions and commit to bearing them in mind while driving.
Welcome Law Enforcement Officers,
The duties of a police officer are comprised of various multitasking events that can divert an officer’s attention. As a Law Enforcement Officer, you are constantly observing every direction outside of your vehicle while simultaneously multi-tasking inside the vehicle, sometimes at a high rate of speed. You may be activating your lights and sirens and recording the location of a call for service or the description of a wanted person or vehicle. Even when tightly grasping the wheel in pursuit of a fleeing car, you still need to transmit radio updates and your location all while clearing intersections and identifying road hazards along the way.
With these responsibilities, driving a patrol vehicle has become even more dangerous as you have to rely on new technologies and tools of the trade. The unfortunate truth is that distracted driving can affect your performance while on duty and increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident.
- What driving distractions do you face most frequently?
- How could these distractions affect your performance while on duty?
- What are some ways you can eliminate or avoid these distractions?
Driving distractions increase the potential for making mistakes. Mistakes can cause injury to you, your fellow officers, and members of the public. It is imperative that you work hard to manage driving distractions, avoid them when appropriate, and notify your supervisor if you believe the distractions make your job too hazardous. Eliminating or reducing driving distractions will help you stay focused on serving your community and returning home safe and sound after each shift.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (n.d.). Website. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving