Printer Friendly

2007 Summer Drive Safely News Conference

Introductory Remarks

By Craig W. Floyd, NLEOMF Chairman & CEO, June 27, 2007

The walls of this Memorial contain the names of nearly 18,000 law enforcement professionals who have sacrificed their lives in the performance of duty. Nearly 5,000 of those officers were killed in traffic-related incidents.

Today, as we approach the July 4th holiday, one of the busiest and most dangerous times of the year on American roadways, we want to send an important message to motorists: drive safely and keep a watchful eye out for the thousands of law enforcement officers who will be out on patrol.

Let me emphasize that July 4th is no holiday for our police officers. They will be out in force over the next week working hard to keep us safe. Our officers will be on the lookout for reckless drivers, enforcing drunk and drugged driving laws, responding to accident scenes and assisting stranded motorists. And, they will be putting their own lives at great risk for our safety and our protection.

Consider, for example, that during the past decade, more than 700 law enforcement officers have been killed in traffic-related incidents. No other cause of death, including shootings, has claimed more police lives over the past decade. Four hundred and seventy-eight of those officers died in auto crashes; 151 were struck and killed while outside of their own vehicles at accident scenes or traffic stops; and 78 died in motorcycle crashes. Another very troubling statistic is that 103 of those traffic-related fatalities during the last decade were caused by drunk drivers, and that represents a 39 percent increase over 30 years ago.

In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, a total of 35 law enforcement officers were killed in traffic-related incidents between 1997 and 2006. And, we received an even more recent reminder of this problem earlier this month when Howard County, Maryland Police Officer Scott Wheeler was struck and killed during a traffic detail.

What can drivers do to make it safer for our law enforcement officers?

  • Move over and slow down when you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the roadway. This is the law in 41 states across our country, but too many people just haven’t gotten the message.
  • Do not talk on your cell phones while driving, and avoid other distractions.
  • Do not drive on the shoulder of our roadways. The shoulder of the roadway is reserved for emergencies and emergency vehicles.
  • Do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This poses a safety hazard to all, but especially to the law enforcement professional on the side of a roadway.
  • Drive safely and obey posted speed limits and other traffic laws. Every time an officer has to respond to a traffic violation or an accident scene, they are putting themselves at great risk.
For these and other safety tips, we encourage everyone to go to our Drive Safely website. Thank you very much. And, please, protect our protectors -- each and every time you get behind the wheel.