ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Every day, hundreds of men and women suit up knowing that it could be their last day of work. Firefighters, police officers and other first responders put their lives on the line doing their jobs. What many people don’t realize is that most of the injuries first responders suffer on the job are a result of a traffic collision.
Police officers in particular face a high risk of being injured in a car crash. Many times, traffic is their office. According to a new study, police officers face a high injury risk while just sitting in a stationary police cruiser and their risk may jump even higher when responding to an emergency call.
A Rochester car accident attorney at Cellino & Barnes says the most dangerous hazard for police officers are not criminals – it’s other drivers.
“Even on a day where there are few crimes to report, police officers are risking their lives in Rochester,” car accident lawyer Ross Cellino said. “Car crashes are the largest cause of death among police officers in the United States.”
The study, conducted by the non-profit RAND Corporation, found about 25 percent of all crashes occurred when an officer’s cruiser wasn’t moving. More than 70 percent of the crashes happened during a routine drive.
Researchers believe their findings suggest law enforcement agencies could implement safety measures to reduce the chance of an officer getting injured. The survey, which looked at nearly a thousand crashes, also discovered excessive speed was rarely a factor in an officer-involved crash.
“Motorcycle officers are at an even greater risk of being injured,” Cellino said. “Most police cruisers are equipped with seatbelts, air bags, and a lot of space between an officer and a colliding vehicle while motorcycles don’t provide those protections.”
Officers who work alone more than double their injury risk, according the study. Researchers said this could be due to distractions such as a radio, their data terminal or a suspect in the backseat.
Rochester car accident attorneys say seat belts can drastically reduce the risk of injury in almost every crash scenario and researchers believe their work is not complete. The study’s authors said they’d like to better understand the injury risks associated with officer-involved car crashes and why officers do not always wear seat belts.