Traffic Safety Through Education and Enforcement

McAnally, William F., Jr.
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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)

There is a large problem in the United states with the number of people that are killed in vehicle crashes. In the years ranging from 2016 to 2018, the average number of people killed on US highways is 37,279, or 102 per day (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, n.d.). That is a 13% increase in people killed in crashes since 2015. If one looks at the number of people who are murdered in the same three-year period, the average is 14,878 (FBI UCR, 2016, 2017, 2018). These numbers show that a person is 85% more likely to die in a crash on a U.S. highway than murdered. Another aspect of a vehicle crash is to examine is the economic loss involved. In 2018, the economic loss associated with vehicle crashes in Texas alone was $39.6 billion (Texas Department of Transportation, 2019). Part of this problem can be attributed to public perception of traffic enforcement. Studies have shown that the public views enforcement as a revenue generator or a quota system (Surratt, 1999). Law enforcement agencies should increase traffic safety through progressive education of the public and aggressive enforcement efforts. The public education can be done in many ways, including media campaigns, community outreach, and traffic safety programs. Public education has shown to be effective in reducing crashes, especially when partnered with enforcement efforts. Another way to increase enforcement is to have directed patrols in high crash and high crime areas. This dual focus helps with reducing other crimes through high visibility enforcement efforts thus making the streets and the community safer overall. This will help change public perception and help build partnerships with the citizens.

Traffic Accidents, Traffic Safety, Traffic Violations, Prevention