This data is collected and published annually by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide information on the law enforcement officers who were killed feloniously or accidentally as well as of those who were assaulted while performing their duties. The LEOKA data shows that the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty by violent means dominated those who were killed in motor vehicle crashes until the middle of the 1990s. However, the recent trend shows that motor vehicle crashes have become the major cause of fatalities of law enforcement officers. These observations suggested an in-depth analysis of the data. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) is maintained by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The FARS is currently the only database that contains detailed information on the fatal crashes involving law enforcement officers. The characteristics of law enforcement officers’ fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes were investigated using the FARS data from 1980 to 2008. The characteristics were analyzed at the crash level for 772 crashes that involved at least one law enforcement officer’s fatality, at the vehicle level for 776 police vehicles with law enforcement officers’ fatalities, and at the person level for 823 law enforcement officers killed in motor vehicle crashes.
The characteristics of fatalities in passenger vehicle crashes were compared between the law enforcement officer (LEO) and non-LEO groups using the FARS data from 2000 to 2008. The LEO and non-LEO groups show substantially different characteristics at crash time, first harmful event, roadway function class (rural/urban), emergency use, fire occurrence, rollover, most harmful event, impact point, vehicle maneuver, crash avoidance maneuver, age, sex, person type, seating position, restraint use, and airbag availability and deployment.
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