NIOSH to Survey Iowa Officers on Vehicle Safety

The agency has invited 162 law enforcement agencies to participate and will try to survey a population of approximately 2,467 sworn officers.

NIOSH is about to conduct a survey of around 2,500 law enforcement officers working in Iowa to find out how they feel about seat belts and their attitudes about safety while in their vehicles. The agency has invited 162 law enforcement agencies to participate, asking their leaders to provide its survey to all sworn officers -- a population of about 2,467 officers, NIOSH estimated. Participation is voluntary.

This photo from the website of the Des Moines Police Department shows one of its traffic enforcement officers. This department is the largest in Iowa."Occupational hazards facing law enforcement officers (LEOs) include psychological, biological, physical, and chemical stressors," the agency's Federal Register notice published on Feb. 8 explains. "While homicides, suicides, and stress-related cardiovascular disease have been well documented in the literature, much less is known about work related motor vehicle incidents in this occupation. Motor vehicle incidents and crashes are the leading cause of occupational death among LEOs. This is not surprising given that LEOs spend a large amount of time conducting vehicle patrols, can be involved in dangerous high-speed pursuits, and often perform work alongside interstates and roadways near speeding motor vehicles.

"While seatbelt use significantly reduces the chance of dying in a motor-vehicle crash, there is some anecdotal evidence that LEOs do not wear seatbelts and often for good reasons. For example, one of the leading reasons why officers report not wearing seatbelts was the tendency of the belt to get caught on their gun holster and therefore inhibit their safety while in the field. A better understanding of how officers view seatbelt usage, ways to decrease barriers to usage in the field, and possible gateways to this behavior change is needed before developing evidence-based interventions."

Small, medium, and large sheriff's departments and city police departments are being asked to participate. Completing the survey should take about 20 minutes, NIOSH said.

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