banner - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (with photo collage)


letter Throughout the United States, Federal, State, county, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies are tasked with enhancing the quality of life for citizens by providing high-quality professional services, by enforcing laws, and by upholding U.S., State, and local Constitutions. It is the goal of every law enforcement agency to ensure that the members of the public it serves feel safe in their homes, in their neighborhoods, and wherever they may travel.

Responding to calls for service, investigating crimes, providing support services, and traffic enforcement are but a few of the many responsibilities of law enforcement agency administrators. The proper allocation of resources to fulfill the needs of the community is a necessary administrative component. Likewise, tasks must be prioritized according to current tendencies in society.

Statistical data shows that when it comes to the realm of law enforcement, people are more likely to be injured or killed as the result of a motor vehicle crash than as a result of crime. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 3 to 33.i During 2001, motor vehicle crashes and homicides, broken down by race, had the following ranks among all causes of death:ii

Rankings of Deaths by Motor Vehicle Crash and Homicide, 2001

Asian or Pacific
Motor Vehicle Crash




This is a trend that can be observed at all jurisdictional levels. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and injury and result in greater economic losses to society than violent crime. Law enforcement agencies must recognize that traffic enforcement is a critical component of its mission of keeping citizens safe.

The mission of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes through education, research, safety standards, and enforcement activity. The agency develops, promotes, and implements effective educational, engineering, and enforcement programs to end preventable tragedies and reduce economic costs associated with vehicle use and highway travel.

This document will serve as NHTSA's guidelines to States for developing a comprehensive statewide traffic law enforcement plan. The guidelines present a framework under which a State, through its law enforcement agencies and partners, may better enhance its traffic enforcement initiatives and thereby reduce the number of fatalities, injuries, and associated economic losses caused by motor vehicle crashes. This guideline discusses planning and coordination, data collection, implementation, evaluation, high-visibility enforcement, marketing, training, and prosecutor and judicial support.