According to the FBI, motor vehicle incidents were the leading cause of accidental line-of-duty deaths for officers in 2019. With the world picking up again after the events of the past few years, law enforcement personnel must do what they can to safely drive on the roads. .
This time of year presents an extra challenge, with more people taking to streets and highways to attend celebrations. Following these safety tips can lower an officer’s risk of injury or death while dealing with the rush.
1. Stay Clear Headed
Many people like to enjoy an additional glass of wine or other spirits during the holiday season. If an officer is on duty, they are not permitted to drink or smoke anything that could affect their alertness. Additionally, while not on the clock, they (and everyone else) need to follow this guideline as well for everyone’s safety. Any slight impairment can slow down your reactions, leading to a traffic accident that hurts or kills yourself or someone else.
2. Have The Best Mindset On the Roads
Anything can happen to an officer while behind the wheel. That means law enforcement should stay prepared for any situation. Mentally going through potential scenarios can help officers remain observant and aware of the emergence of a potentially volatile event. It helps to watch the reactions of other drivers and make a note of anything that seems suspicious.
3. Keep Your Seatbelt On
Even the most well-trained officer can fall victim to someone else’s recklessness while driving. For that reason, police officers should always wear a safety belt. That way, they lower the risk that they might end up seriously injured or killed because of another person’s negligence.
If there is a fear of being slowed down by the safety belt when there is a need to exit the vehicle quickly, practice taking it off. A good way to remedy any anxiety is to practice taking off the seat belt while the car comes to a stop. That helps build the reflexes that kick in when you’re approaching a potentially dangerous situation.
4. Maintain Proper Speed
Every officer should read up on their agency’s guidelines on properly conducting high-speed pursuits. In addition, the officer should mentally go through a checklist on whether a high-speed chase is necessary.
If an officer does decide to initiate a chase, slowing down often has little effect on the eventual outcome. Slow by just a few miles per hour. An officer can still keep a suspect in sight and this can end up saving an officer’s life if they must suddenly hit the brake or execute a police maneuver.
5. Keep an Eye Out For Pedestrians
Pedestrians often face danger on the road from auto drivers, including police officers. That mix becomes more dangerous during the holidays with more people walking around. An average of 6,000 pedestrian deaths have occurred in just over the past few years.
Because of the increased traffic on the roads, law enforcement should work harder to avoid harming pedestrians while patrolling or out on other police business. That means keeping a careful eye out at crosswalks, watching for people to come out from between parked cars, or jaywalkers crossing where they shouldn’t.
6. Wear Proper Protection
Wearing the best body armor while pursuing a potentially dangerous individual can end up saving an officer’s life. There’s always the possibility that even a seemingly peaceful stop can turn violent. Protective suits or vests can save your life if a suspect ends up taking a shot. In addition, officers should make sure they have gear nearby to grab when a situation arises while driving.