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


letter Traffic law enforcement is not a stand-alone activity. To be effective, comprehensive traffic enforcement should have a high degree of coordination, be supported by data collection and analysis, be implemented according to threats identified by data, and should be evaluated for effectiveness. To be successful, traffic enforcement must be highly visible and sustained, must be supported by adequate training, must incorporate marketing initiatives, should address nationally identified issues of impaired driving and occupant protection, and must be supported by prosecutors and the courts.

Traffic enforcement seeks to generate a general deterrence effect on motorists. General deterrence is based on the driving public's perception of being cited or arrested for a traffic violation. If enough potential violators believe there is a strong probability they will be caught, some of them will avoid committing traffic offenses, at least some of the time. The overall goal is to increase compliance by motorists to traffic laws, resulting in reduced vehicle crashes.

State, county, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies should establish traffic enforcement as a priority within their total enforcement programs. A traffic enforcement program should be built on a foundation of commitment, coordination, planning, monitoring, and evaluation. To achieve these objectives, State, county, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies should:

  • provide the public with a high-quality, effective traffic enforcement system and have enabling legislation and regulations in place to implement traffic enforcement functions;

  • develop and implement a comprehensive enforcement plan for impaired driving involving alcohol or other drugs, safety belt use and child passenger safety laws, aggressive driving, speeding, and other hazardous moving violations. The plan should, through data collection, systematically identify problem areas, both behavioral and geographical, and initiate countermeasures to mitigate the problem;

  • develop a cooperative working relationship with other State, county, and local governmental agencies and community organizations on traffic safety issues;

  • issue and enforce policies on roadside sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, safety belt use, pursuit driving, crash investigation and reporting, speed enforcement, and serious traffic violations; and

  • develop performance measures for traffic enforcement that are both qualitative and quantitative.