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Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management

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March 11, 2016

Epidemiology of law enforcement vehicle collisions in the US and California

This collaborative study between the University of California Berkeley and the University of Colorado Denver, was conducted to identify characteristics of law enforcement vehicle collisions that are positively associated with officer culpability.

The researchers used the California Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to identify 5,233 California law enforcement related traffic collisions that resulted in injury between the years 2007 and 2010. An analysis of the data indicated the following;

  1. 10% of the collisions involved a law enforcement motorcycle, additionally;
  2. The following factors were determined to be "strongly associated with the likelihood of officer culpability;"
  • younger age
  • female sex
  • vehicle operation
  • not wearing a seatbelt
  • solo vehicle collision

The study concludes with suggestions for addressing the implications of the data findings. It is suggested that younger officers should be closely supervised in their vehicle operations in order to catch and address early warning signs, that the benefits of having motorcycle operators versus the increased risks for injury and death of motorcycle operators should be carefully considered, and seatbelt use should be enforced.

The entire study can be obtained at Emerald Insight.


Wear your seatbelt, watch your speed, and practice SAFE driving!

The SAFE Driving Campaign is a POST initiative focused on reducing fatal and serious injury law enforcement traffic collisions nationwide.  For further information regarding the SAFE Driving Campaign, visit the SAFE Driving Campaign on the POST Website or contact:

Janna Munk, POST Senior Consultant
Training Program Services Bureau
(916) 227-0473

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