New Traffic Stop Safety

July 30, 2020 by Meredith Trimble

New Traffic Stop Safety

Whether from personal experience or movie and television screen references, the traffic stop is familiar to just about everyone. Speeding, running a red light, having an outdated registration, and other infractions compel officers to pull drivers over to the side of the road.

What is less familiar is the significant back-end work that goes into resulting traffic tickets. From the perspective of the responding officer, time on the side of the road is always risky. Standing unprotected near fast-moving traffic is an ever-present danger, along with myriad other roadside hazards. Now, with cases of COVID-19 continuing to spike in many areas across the country, personal contact between officer and driver poses new risks – to both parties.

In a usual situation, the one we are most familiar with, the officer collects ID and registration documents from the driver and goes back into the squad car to work on a paper citation. New technology innovations, however, have made the transaction possible quickly and electronically. With handheld e-citation technology that works on hardware (MDTS and Tablets) in Windows as well as iOs and Android devices, for example, officers can significantly limit contact with the driver. An app on the officer’s device eliminates the need even to collect paperwork, as scanners can automatically capture the necessary data without physically collecting the violator’s documents.

This digital system makes traffic stops more efficient for all parties while ensuring the accuracy of data. Limiting physical contact in the COVID-19 context is an even more significant benefit to all involved. What’s more, the data captured at the stop can be transmitted electronically to integrated courts and records systems, right from the officer’s device. The app’s uses extend beyond traffic citations to include crash reports, parking violations, code enforcement, and criminal trespass warnings. Enhanced statistical reports from the collected data provide supervisors, other agencies, and the public with accessible, accurate information. Web-based architecture gives departments control, and either cloud or hosted software option eliminates server space for the department.

Right now, more than 925 public safety agencies are running e-citation software on a combination of more than 31,000 hardware and mobile devices that suit their organizations’ unique needs. Agency examples include the State of Nevada, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Virginia State Police, and the Austin PD. At present, 12 million citations are processed annually. On average, the hand-held ticketing writing technology decreases a traffic stop from 10 minutes to just three.

While e-citation technology has been in use prior to COVID-19 due to increased officer safety and processing efficiency, this technology’s use to further enhance officer and public safety will no doubt increase its adoption in a way that will continue after the pandemic.

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