NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Accidents Chief Cause Of Police Deaths

October 27, 1999

Traffic accidents kill more police officers than violent assaults, according to a new report from the International Union of Police Associations.

  • A total of 156 officers died in the line of duty last year -- 47 percent of whom were killed in car or motorcycle accidents, or were hit while walking.
  • Roughly half of fatal traffic accidents occur at intersections, often during pursuits -- while about 30 percent occur when an officer loses control of his car during a high-speed chase, and 20 percent occur when police vehicles collide with suspects' cars.
  • Violent attacks, including those involving firearms, claimed 37 percent of lives lost in the line of duty.
  • Job-related illnesses claimed 12 percent.

Over the past five years, an average of 159 officers died annually while working. And roughly 20,000 officers are injured every year, more than 8,000 of them in traffic accidents.

Source: Scott Bowles, "Accidents Kill More Police Than Assaults," USA Today, October 27, 1999.


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