When people think of the dangers faced by law enforcement officers, they often think of the shootouts, the high-stress calls and the constant exposure to violence. But they’re forgetting one aspect of law enforcement that is among the most dangerous: traffic stops.

Every day, thousands of law enforcement officers stand on the sides of busy highways or narrow two-lane roads issuing traffic citations. With cars and trucks whizzing by at high rates of speed, it takes very little for a distracted driver to veer off the road and create an irreversible tragedy.

Traffic stops by the numbers

Millions of traffic citations are issued every year by law enforcement – it’s estimated about 112,000 tickets are issued per day with each traffic stop lasting on average about 10 to 15 minutes. The longer an officer stands at the side of a busy road, the more dangerous the traffic stop becomes because the likelihood for an officer to get struck, injured or killed by a passing vehicle increases dramatically.

The FBI estimates that about one officer a day is injured or killed during these traffic stops or in traffic-related accidents each year. This makes traffic incidents among the most dangerous events encountered by law enforcement officers.

A solution: How to stop putting officers at risk

It is difficult to issue traffic citations and complete all the required paperwork quickly, especially when standing alongside a busy road. Manually writing tickets can lead to delays or worse, and takes an officer’s focus away from the road and the environment around her. Electronic ticketing would solve this – it would reduce ticketing time to just two to three minutes. This alone would help keep officers off the sides of potentially dangerous roads for extended periods of time.

Why electronic ticketing?

Electronic ticketing and citations reduce an officer’s roadside exposure by auto-populating offender and vehicle information quickly and speeding up the completion of routine forms like towing in the event of an accident. Electronic ticketing, such as the solution offered by CentralSquare, validates the submitted information so that officers don’t have to spend time double checking for errors.

How can this increase officer safety?

Shortening the time it takes an officer to issue a citation would reduce the exposure risk of being struck by a vehicle. Even cutting the time by a few minutes could save many lives. Agencies should seek out a technology partner, like CentralSquare, that is making strides in e-ticketing in order to increase officer safety and help keep officers on top of their workload. Agencies should look for an e-ticketing solution that meets CJIS compliance with secure access to up-to-date citations, reports and forms.

Routine traffic stops shouldn’t be one of the leading causes of officer-related injuries and fatalities. Law enforcement officers already face many dangers, so eliminating any potential hazards should be a top priority for every public safety agency.