A decade-long downward trend in police traffic enforcement has been exacerbated by recent internal and external pressures on law enforcement agencies. The reduction in traffic enforcement activity may provide an opportunity to evaluate safety impacts when the enforcement treatment is reduced, and consequently be an indicator of the relative value associated with traffic enforcement.
Research is needed to develop a better understanding of the relationship between enforcement and safety outcomes, and to show how changes in enforcement activity and investments may or may not affect safety outcomes. Quantifying the safety outcomes of traffic enforcement can potentially contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the efficacy of enforcement. Outcomes can also help to calibrate enforcement efforts, favoring those that are more promising for given driving behaviors and violations.
The objectives of this research are to (1) assess how changes in traffic enforcement levels and type of enforcement activity correlate with corresponding changes in traffic-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities and (2) provide state highway safety offices (SHSOs) and other decision makers with practical tools to identify optimal levels of traffic enforcement to help reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries. This research will contribute to the existing body of knowledge, helping to calibrate enforcement efforts for optimal effectiveness based on driving behaviors and specific violations, and with equity considerations.
PHASE I - Document Review and Planning
Task 1. Conduct a review and synthesis of existing studies that have examined the relationship between changes in traffic enforcement activity and associated changes in crashes, injuries, and/or fatalities. This effort should be comprehensive and not limited to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Task 2. Develop an outline for (1) tools designed for use at the state and local levels to identify optimal levels of traffic enforcement (to be developed under Task 7) and (2) outreach materials to support practitioners’ understanding and use of the research findings (to be developed under Task 8).
Task 3. Develop a data collection and analysis plan for conducting new research in Phase II to accomplish the project's objectives. At a minimum, identify any national, state, and local data sources and the nature of data that the research team (1) currently has access to and (2) will have access to during the course of this project that will support analysis of:
- Changes in traffic enforcement levels and types of enforcement activities in recent years (including data specific to grant-funded programs, which often are conducted on an overtime basis)
- Reasons for recent declines in traffic enforcement levels
- Associated changes in traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities, including relevant demographics
- Agency staffing, budget allocations, and jurisdictional demographics in the study locations
- Potential impacts of legislative changes with regard to traffic stops (e.g., decriminalization of road user behaviors and new traffic laws that might be unpopular with the public)
- Other relevant issues not addressed above
Task 4. Prepare Interim Report #1 that documents the work completed in Tasks 1 through 3. Update the work proposed for Phase II.
PHASE II - Data Collection and Analysis
Task 5. Execute the plan in Interim Report #1, as modified through discussions with BTSCRP, to achieve the research objectives.
Task 6. Prepare Interim Report #2 that documents the work completed in Task 5. Update the work proposed for Phase III.
PHASE III - Deliverables
Task 7. Develop (1) general recommendations regarding optimal levels of routine traffic enforcement for a range of jurisdictional demographics; (2) practical tools that can be used at the state and local levels to identify optimal levels of traffic enforcement to help reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries; and (3) potential strategies to support the sustainability of law enforcement overtime for grant-funded programs.
Task 8. Develop outreach materials to support practitioners’ understanding and use of the research findings.
Task 9. Conduct a workshop (prior to submission of draft final deliverables) with at least 15 representatives of SHSOs, law enforcement agencies, and other key stakeholders to demonstrate key research findings and proposed outreach materials. Revise the outreach materials and workshop materials, taking into account feedback gathered during the workshop.
Task 10. Develop final deliverables, which at a minimum will include (1) a final research report documenting the entire research effort findings and recommendations; (2) tools for use at the state and local levels to identify optimal levels of traffic enforcement (3) outreach materials to support practitioners’ understanding and use of the research findings; (4) prioritized recommendations for future research and data needs; (5) PowerPoint presentation summarizing the research findings; and (6) a technical memorandum on implementation.
STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.