Traffic law enforcement makes roads safer, new study finds

Traffic law enforcement makes roads safer, new study finds

Traffic law enforcement makes roads safer, new study finds

High visibility road safety law enforcement really works. When implemented, driving regulations have a positive and measurable impact on safety by reducing dangerous behavior behind the wheel that endangers road users.

That’s the main finding of a new research study released Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which confirms that when laws are implemented, positive behavior change often occurs.

“This study reinforces the need for fair traffic enforcement focused on the most dangerous driving behaviors,” Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), said in a statement. “Over the past two years, traffic enforcement has declined in many parts of the country, while the number of road deaths has increased.”

“Synthesis of studies relating the extent of enforcement to the magnitude of safety outcomes” was conducted by the National Cooperative Research and Evaluation Program, now called the Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Project, a federal research program administered by NHTSA and GHSA with the aim of helping State Highway Safety Offices are improving their programs.

The report synthesized existing research examining data from 80 studies on the relationship between high-visibility enforcement efforts and safety outcomes. The analysis focused on the dangerous driving behavior that is one of the biggest causes of fatal crashes: don’t hurry; driving too fast; and drunk, distracted and aggressive driving. The results indicated that initiatives with enforcement and public outreach can reduce these risky behaviors, according to the GHSA.

For example, seat belt use increased by an average of 3.5% when a high-visibility enforcement campaign was used. Even a relatively small increase in belt use can translate into hundreds of lives saved. As a result of the federal “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement program, according to the analysis, seat belt use in this country has increased from just 58% in 1994 to more than 90% in 2020. After years of steady progress, it has declined. However, percentage was slightly in 2020 during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, when many police departments reduced traffic enforcement, the report said.

The study also found that high-visibility enforcement campaigns targeting distracted driving, drink-driving and speeding resulted in a reduction in cell phone use, a lower number of drunk-driving accidents, and a lower rate of drink-driving, respectively. speeds in work zones.

“Enforcement alone will not solve the road safety crisis,” Adkins added. “We cannot simply force, build, design or teach our way out of this problem. The safe system requires a comprehensive approach to achieve our collective goal of zero fatalities, including fair enforcement that focuses on risky driver choices that endanger all road users.”

The Safe System approach to road safety and design, also known as Vision Zero, takes human error into account. It was first applied in Sweden in the 1990s and its goal is to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries by creating multiple layers of protection, so if one fails, the others will create a safety net to reduce the impact of an accident .

To read a summary of the report, click here. To read the full report, click here. For more information about the Cooperative Research Project on Road Safety Behavioral Safety, click here.