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2015 Officer Traffic Safety Finalist
Within a span of two years, the Prince George’s County (MD) Police Department suffered the loss of three officers, all of whom died in single-vehicle crashes. These tragedies became the impetus for changing behavior and promoting safety.
In 2013, the Department instituted the ‘Arrive Alive” program, which focuses on reducing crashes and injuries. They instituted a mandatory two-hour training session on vehicle safety and good driving habits taught by Command Staff. This top-down approach to improving driver safety was followed by a weekly message from Command Staff, further illustrating their policy of driving safety policies and procedures.
The main areas addressed were increasing the use of seatbelts, getting officers to slow down, and limiting distractions caused by electronic devices. Safety messages were displayed in conspicuous places, and six times each day, a driver’s safety message was broadcast over their police radios on all channels. First line supervisors then followed up with messages and reminders.
Lieutenants and the Sergeants were charged with reinforcing the safety messages by talking to their officers to clarify and outline both the public perception problems bad driving habits present, as well as the liability and potential administrative sanctions that could result from these bad habits. The department also issues driver safety awards monthly to the Bureau or Patrol District that has lowest number of crashes.
The Department reported that in 2011-2012, an estimated 45% of its officers regularly wore their seatbelt. A year after implementation of this safety initiative, they estimate that 70-75% of their officers are now regularly wearing seatbelts—a dramatic improvement. Further, the department crash rate has decreased by almost 25%.