Are Police Officers Exposing Others to Distracted Driving Crash Risks?
Distracted driving is a problem for drivers of all age groups across the United States despite reports claiming teens are the drivers who are most likely to be involved in crashes over distractions.
Unfortunately for innocent bystanders and more responsible motorists, law enforcement agents might not be following their own advice on distracted driving; at least that’s what some safety advocacy groups are claiming.
Reports concerning auto accidents in certain areas of the country have triggered the concerns of several safety advocates, mostly because the reports have been associated with law enforcement agents who have been distracted while driving their police cars. While the number of crashes involving distracted officers is relatively low in comparison to the number of distracted driving-related accidents caused by civilian drivers, experts are concerned about the risks associated with officers responsible for enforcing distracted driving laws while being distracted themselves.
Some safety advocates believe that the series of technological features they have in their patrol cars are simply too distracting, which may be increasing the risk of traffic accidents as a result.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of drivers or passengers are injured in car crashes associated with drivers who were distracted at the time of the collision. The increasing numbers of personal injury accidents linked to distractions has been worrying some safety advocacy groups that have now taken to the authorities not only to urge officers to step up enforcement but also to urge them to stop using their several gadgets while behind the wheel in order to promote safety.
According to a recent study on distracted police officers behind the wheel carried out by a professor at Washington State University, the more gadgets that are placed inside of police cars, the more distracting officers will be. There’s little that they can’t do when it comes to ensuring that such features are not distracting them, putting pressure on police departments to ensure their officers are trained to only use the gadgets when the car is not in motion.
The study made use of hundreds of traffic accident reports that have been gathered since 2010. According to the reports, the professor in charge has also reviewed several hours of police squad car videos. In 61 accidents involving police officers reviewed by some reporters, distraction was the factor behind the occurrences.
In half of the instances, the officer was oblivious of what was going on due to distractions linked to something inside the squad car. In most cases the cause of the distraction was either a computer or a cell phone. Other distractions associated with officers taking their eyes off the road to do something related to their work, identifying drivers not wearing seat belts, or paying attention to a suspect vehicle were also factors in distracted driving accidents.
According to official reports, average police officers drive more often than average motorists, exposing them at a greater risk of being involved in accidents. Nevertheless, officers admit to being distracted often by the many technological gadgets they have to handle while inside their squad cars. This kind of distraction ends up affecting not only the officers behind the wheel, but also perfectly innocent people who are injured as a result of the crashes.
Many agencies claim their officers are trained to not take their eyes off the road for longer than two minutes, yet many officers continue to be distracted due to their jobs’ demands, exposing others to distracted driving accident risks.