Traffic Safety Innovations: How Agencies Use the National Law Enforcement Challenge to Zero In on Traffic Safety Issues

Sadly, crashes involving drivers who fail to obey traffic laws for speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving, and other dangerous behaviors on the roads claim lives every day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 32,500 lives were lost on U.S. roadways in 2014, and the number trended even higher for the first nine months of 2015. So how can law enforcement agencies make traffic enforcement a priority, reduce the number of fatal and injurious crashes, detect and deter crime, create safer communities, and improve the overall quality of life in agencies’ jurisdictions?

In 2011, the National Law Enforcement Challenge (NLEC) was reformatted to zero in on those exact goals, shifting to a more data-driven approach in traffic enforcement and education. The NLEC is a traffic safety recognition program aimed at the issues of impaired driving, occupant protection, and speeding. The NLEC also gives agencies the opportunity to address a road safety problem specific to their community or in support of their state’s highway safety strategic plan. Submitting agencies quantify and qualify their roadway safety initiatives in seven sections for each category: problem identification, policies, planning, training, public information and education, enforcement, and outcomes.