Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Transportation Safety Training Center

Looking Beyond the Ticket

Purpose

Many criminal offenses involve or require the use of a motor vehicle in their commission. Aggressive traffic enforcement designed to reduce traffic crashes can also serve as an effective tool to combat crime.

Discussion

Law enforcement agencies across the country are taking steps to address their communities’ needs in combating crime. Limited personnel, increased requests for services and rising violent crime rates are common in many communities. A strong traffic enforcement program will reduce the daily toll of death and injury on the nation’s highways while helping to fight crime, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2005, 43,443 people died in motor vehicle crashes throughout the country, while 16,910 were victims of homicides. Each year, motor vehicle crashes cost the nation more than $230 billion, compared to the $17 billion spent for victims of personal and household crimes.

Crime-crash Clock

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed the crime-crash clock to show the frequency of crimes and traffic crashes in the U.S. View the most current version [PDF] to learn more.

Countermeasures

  • Implementation of programs such as the National Sheriffs’ Association Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Program or the NHTSA’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program are excellent ways to promote communitywide safety efforts.
  • Training programs must address the following areas:
    1. Understanding the role of aggressive traffic enforcement in reducing the number and severity of motor vehicle crashes.
    2. Understanding legal issues associated with aggressive traffic enforcement that encourages looking beyond the traffic ticket to identify criminal activity in progress.
    3. Learning how vehicles are used to further the trafficking in illegal drugs or other contraband, as well as how to legally discover such contraband.
  • Officer safety must be the primary concern in developing any aggressive traffic/criminal enforcement program. Some level of risk is associated with any type of aggressive program that interdicts criminal activity.
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  • Richmond, Virginia 23284-3023
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