Limits Amount of Physical Interaction between Law Enforcement and Drivers to Reduce the Chance of Roadside Accidents and Altercations
This smartphone application improves the safety of high-stress interactions between law enforcement and civilians by limiting face-to-face contact during traffic stops. Over 40 percent of police-civilian encounters occur during traffic stops. Across the nation in 2015, 124 law enforcement officers died; 7 officers died after being shot during traffic stops and 11 officers died when struck outside their vehicles during a traffic stop. One out of three shootings in which a law enforcement officer fires at a civilian occurs during a traffic stop for a minor infraction. Of these shootings, unarmed civilian deaths make up about a third of the total deaths. Traffic-related deaths of both civilians and law enforcement officers are on the rise with a 54 percent increase in 2017 compared to 2016.
To combat this, researchers at the University of Florida have designed the “Virtual Traffic Stop” app to reduce physical interaction between law enforcement and drivers during traffic stops. This smartphone app enables officers to access driver and vehicle information and to communicate with the driver through network-connected devices without officers or drivers leaving their vehicles.
Software application for use by law enforcement and civilians on network-connected devices to reduce or eliminate face-to-face interaction during a traffic stop
- Operates using network-enabled devices already used by police units and many civilians, reducing additional costs
- Eliminates manual transfer of documents, increasing speed and reducing errors during traffic stops
- Allows third parties to enter the communications, reducing chances of misunderstandings and increasing the effectiveness of the communication
- Reduces face-to-face contact between officers and civilians, limiting interactions that might lead to altercations or injuries
This smartphone application, named “Virtual Traffic Stop,” operates through any network-connected device. It allows officers and civilians to virtually connect during a traffic stop. Traditional interactions involve the manual transfer of documentation, including the driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance, from driver to officer. This software will simplify this step, reducing errors and time spent at traffic stops. The driver puts the required information into the application prior to being pulled over. During a traffic stop, the officer only needs to input the license plate to access the driver’s information. The application also allows the officer and civilian to videoconference, teleconference, or even text from their vehicles. This has the potential to limit the unwarranted escalation of violence due to the misunderstandings or behaviors that could appear threatening. A third party may also conference into the conversation. For example, if drivers are minors or their primary language is not English, the app may immediately contact a parent or translator to intercede in the communications.