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More officers die in traffic deaths than shootings in 2004
March 29, 2005


In 2004, more law enforcement officers were killed in traffic-related accidents than in shootings.

According to figures released recently by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund and the Concerns of Police Survivors, 72 officers were killed in traffic-related accidents in 2004. Of those, 51 were killed in automobile accidents, nine were killed in motorcycle accidents and 12 were struck and killed while outside of their vehicles.

During the same year, 57 officers lost their lives in shootings.

Calibre Press Lead Instructor Dave Smith says the statistics underscore the need for better driver training and safer vehicles for law enforcement personnel.

"While it's encouraging to see a drop in the number of deaths by shootings, more needs to be done to ensure that officers have the tools they need to stay safe on patrol," he said. "Driver training should be a top priority, and patrol vehicles should be better equipped with items that help reduce the risk of injury in a crash."

Smith said all hazards in the interior of a patrol vehicle should be minimized, including how a shotgun or rifle is mounted, and where and how MDT's and MDC's are mounted. Vehicles should also be equipped with fire extinguishers to reduce the risk of fire caused by a crash.

"We need to attempt to control the distracters officers have while responding at greater speeds," he added.

A federal study prepared in 1997 for the National Institute of Justice showed policies regarding driver training varied from agency to agency, with some providing minimal training and some providing no high-speed training at all. Smith said as driver training improves, the number of officers injured or killed in traffic-related accidents will drop.

National Police Week is May 15-21. The families of 154 officers who were killed in the line of duty in 2004 will be honored.