February 22, 2024

NIOSH Outlines Strategies to Prevent Law Enforcement Officer Motor Vehicle Crashes

Safe driving measures described in a new NIOSH document are intended to help reduce motor vehicle crashes among law enforcement officers, a leading cause of death for this workforce. According to the agency, unique risk factors that can contribute to motor vehicle crashes among officers include fatigue due to shift work and long work hours; driving in hazardous road conditions; driving at high speeds, such as when responding to emergencies; and exposure to stress and dangerous situations, which may cause officers to experience side effects of a stress response while driving. NIOSH notes that extreme stress can severely impair individuals’ attention, perception, decision-making, and physical performance. Lack of seat belt use is also a common factor in motor vehicle crashes involving law enforcement officers. A report published by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in 2022 (PDF) found that 47 percent of officers killed in crashes from 2017 to 2021 were not wearing seat belts.

NIOSH urges law enforcement agencies to consider various strategies to help reduce the risk of motor vehicle crashes and injuries. For example, agencies can stress the importance of seat belt compliance and encourage officers to avoid unnecessary speeding, be mindful of safety at intersections, and reduce stress and distractions while driving.

For more information, and to download the document as a free PDF, visit NIOSH’s website.