A lot has been written about the hazards of distracted driving. Now, there is new information about the impact of distraction on police officers! A public safety administration class at St. Mary’s University here in Minnesota analyzed 378 crashes involving police cars from 2006 to 2010. The results are intriguing!
Key findings included:
- Most crashes occurred during non-emergency responses
- Crashes occurring during emergency responses were the most expensive
- Distracted driving caused 14% of all crashes
- Half of distracted driving crashes were due to the use of squad car computers
- Average insurance claim was $3,000 per crash. However, if the crash was due to distracted driving it doubled to $6,000. If the crash was due to squad car computer distraction the average cost was $10,000!
This study is interesting, but it’s only a partial snapshot of this type of crash in one state. It did not include some of the larger police departments, such as St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Bottom line: It’s safe to assume that distracted driving is just as dangerous to police (and prehospital providers, too). And with growing dependence on advanced technology for law enforcement, this problem is just going to get worse. It is imperative that everything be done to improve safety for our law enforcement colleagues. Potential solutions include training to increase awareness of distractions within the car, simulator testing of driving while using cockpit technology, and ergonomic studies to maximize field of view from within the car.