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Compliance with traffic laws by traffic police officers, non-traffic police officers, and civilian drivers

Compliance with traffic laws by traffic police officers, non-traffic police officers, and civilian drivers

Traffic Injury Prevention 15(5): 446-450

The policy of a public organization, such as police, may shape the norms and the behavior of the citizens. In line with this, police officers are expected by the public to comply with traffic laws and serve as an example for the citizenry. This study used on-site observations of civilian and police driver, comparing police officers' compliance with traffic laws to that of civilians. We compared driver compliance with traffic laws for drivers in 3 groups of vehicles: traffic police cars, non-traffic police cars, and civilian cars. Four hundred sixty-six vehicles were observed and compared by vehicle type and whether a uniform was worn by the driver. We observed safety belt usage, signaling before turning, cellular phone usage, and giving way to traffic (measured by merging time). We found evidence that generally drivers in police cars use seat belts while driving more that drivers in civilian cars do. In particular, more traffic police car drivers used seat belts than non-traffic police car drivers do. In addition, drivers in civilian cars and non-traffic police cars waited longer periods of time before merging right into traffic compared to traffic police car drivers. Our findings supported the notion that on-duty police officers, and traffic police officers in particular, adhere more closely to traffic laws compared to civilian drivers. As the general public compliance with traffic laws is affected by the police perceived legitimacy, the publication of these results can both boost public cooperation with the police and encourage police officers to continue providing positive role models to the public.

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Accession: 052264540

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PMID: 24678566

DOI: 10.1080/15389588.2013.834531

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