By Richard J. Ashton, Chief of Police (Retired), Frederick, Maryland; and Grant/Technical Management Manager, IACP
any roads lead to highway safety because there is no single route that will prevent all fatalities, serious injuries, and crashes regardless of cause. The four Es—education, emergency medical services, enforcement, and engineering—travel multiple roads at various times and for different purposes in order to reduce highway carnage. This Highway Safety–themed issue of Police Chief magazine moves along five different roadways connected by speed reduction, impaired-driving countermeasures, and seat belt enforcement toward achieving highway safety.
Cincinnati, Ohio, recorded 2005 as its worst year in more than one decade for traffic deaths: 36 fatal crashes with 37 lives lost. Its police department moved from a road without directional signs to a newly constructed multilane highway based on problem-oriented policing’s scanning, analysis, response, and assessment model (known as SARA) and situational crime prevention to target systematically, in partnership with the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), the primary crash causes (speed and aggressive driving, alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, and seat belt violations) at those times and in those locations identified via data analysis. The police department’s efforts yielded in 2009 a 47 percent reduction from 2005’s fatal crashes, the fewest traffic deaths the city had experienced in 15 years. Cincinnati Police Department Captain Daniel W. Gerard, along with Nicholas Corsaro, Robin S. Engel, and John E. Eck—all PhDs from the Institute of Crime Science—provide a roadmap to their successful approach in “Cincinnati CARS: A Crash Analysis Reduction Strategy.”
Colonel John Born, OSHP superintendent, journeyed a significantly improved path to highway safety by reconstructing longtime performance standards based upon the average time required statewide in 2010 to complete each assigned task and then by measuring troopers’ efforts via an innovative time efficiency value (TEV) program. The TEV program encourages proficiency in discharging those tasks to which troopers are assigned and concomitantly promotes diligence in their use of unobligated patrol time. Even with 10 percent less staffing and resources in 2011, Ohio recorded last year the fewest traffic fatalities it ever had experienced, as well as significant increases in drug seizures. The OSHP’s approach affirmed across the board in 2011 its overarching question posed at the beginning of each tour of duty: What will you do today to contribute to a safer Ohio? Colonel Born describes the program in “Time Efficiency over Quotas: Program Measures and Balances Public Safety Productivity.”
A relatively new road—traffic incident management (TIM)—offers the promise of law enforcement and other public safety disciplines resolving together more effectively, efficiently, and safely than in the past unplanned traffic incidents in order to mitigate congestion and reduce the frequency and seriousness of secondary crashes. “10 TIM Concepts for Reducing Crash Frequency and Seriousness” explores interdisciplinary cooperation and coordination to better prepare for and respond to primary traffic incidents. The IACP Highway Safety Committee’s TIM Subcommittee has incorporated best practices into the forthcoming roll-call video Manage to Survive: Traffic Incident Management for First Responders.
The National Law Enforcement Challenge (NLEC) will continue to travel its three traditional lanes toward highway safety—speed, impaired driving, and occupant protection—but it will add a fourth one—local traffic safety issues that will allow agencies to demonstrate their support for and their participation in states’ strategic highway safety plans. Captain Howard B. Hall of the Baltimore County, Maryland, Police Department enumerates in “The National Law Enforcement Challenge: Refined, Refocused, Reenergized” the metamorphosis that NLEC currently is undergoing to increase NLEC participation and to improve the quality of application evaluation. Paper NLEC submissions will exit and future NLEC ones will be wholly electronic; while a greater effort will be made to promote winning programs, so agencies will not have to reinvent the proverbial wheel.
“Speeding Cops” in the Highway Safety Initiatives department describes the deadly and unprofessional paths that officers have followed en route to initiate positive actions as well as off duty, because they could. Police chief executives are encouraged to proactively develop reasonable policies to safeguard their officers, underscore law enforcement’s responsibility to abide by the laws their officers enforce, and hold their officers accountable for compliance with them.
There are myriad routes toward the achievement of highway safety. Five are traveled in this issue of Police Chief. Choose roads, or combinations of roads, along which your agency can move to safeguard the residents your officers serve daily. After all, saving lives and reducing serious injuries are among law enforcement’s raison d’être. ♦
Please cite as:
Richard J. Ashton, "Many Roads Lead to Highway Safety," The Police Chief 79 (July 2012): 22.