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For all of their benefits, modern communications and information sharing systems have never been well-suited for single occupant vehicle operations, as they sometimes require the use of both hands and divert the driver’s attention off the road. It has been estimated that taking your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds is like covering the length of a football field while driving 55 mph blindfolded..
During driving, law enforcement officers are facing daily the challenge of balancing the need for critical data with the urgency of arriving safely at the incident.
Officer distraction by looking at messages is often viewed as an inherent risk of the occupation, as various technologies are engineered into patrol vehicles and become essential operational tools. In addition to mobile radios, most vehicles are now equipped with navigation equipment, cell phones, cameras, speed detection, license plate readers, display monitors and a variety of laptops. However, these same tools that are designed to provide enhanced situational awareness can instead compromise an officer’s safety, as well as the communities they serve.
DHS S&T is engaging in a new initiative to assess and analyze the risks and problems associated with preventable law enforcement distracted driving events. In coming months, the Advanced Decision Support for Public Safety—Preventable Law Enforcement Distracted Driving project will engage supervisors and patrol officers across the United States and Canada in web-based solution-oriented discussions.
S&T and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory have been working closely with a variety of stakeholders—including law enforcement, academia, local, state and federal government partners, and the private sector—to better understand the underlying causes of collisions involving first responders.
S&T has also begun to engage with the private sector to discuss solutions (e.g., communications and situational awareness tools, data and information sharing technologies, algorithms, analytics, and more) that could readily integrate into existing infrastructure and personal protective equipment with limited or no interference, according to newswise.com.