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High Visibility Enforcement combines enforcement, visibility elements, and a publicity strategy to educate the public and promote voluntary compliance with the law. Checkpoints, saturation patrols and other HVE strategies should include increased publicity and warnings to the public. Although forewarning the public might seem counterproductive to apprehending violators, it actually increases the deterrent effect.

The HVE concept is a departure from traditional law enforcement tactics. HVE incorporates enforcement strategies, such as enhanced patrols using visibility elements (e.g. electronic message boards, road signs, command posts, BAT mobiles, etc.) designed to make enforcement efforts obvious to the public. It is supported by a coordinated communication strategy and publicity. HVE may also be enhanced through multi-jurisdictional efforts and partnerships between people and organizations dedicated to the safety of their community.

"You are out there patrolling anyway; just incorporate the HVE elements and strategies in your regular enforcement."

-- Lt. William Brown, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, Milwaukee, WI


Saturation Patrol

Increased squads conducting enforcement in a targeted area to gain voluntary compliance of traffic laws and create general deterrence to prevent traffic violations. Note: increased enforcement must be visible to the motoring public.  They need to see officers making traffic stops.


Stopping vehicles, or a specific sequence of vehicles (e.g., every fifth vehicle), at a predetermined fixed location to detect drivers who are impaired by alcohol or other drugs. One purpose of a sobriety checkpoint is to increase the perceived risk of detection and arrest for individuals who might otherwise decide to engage in unsafe driving behavior. This is a checkpoint’s general deterrence effect. The fact that all, or a proportion of, vehicles are stopped reduces the impaired driver’s confidence that they can avoid detection by concealing or compensating for alcohol or drug impairment.


The following documents provide guidance on these enforcement strategies:


Increased enforcement of a specific traffic violation in a targeted location for a short period of time that occurs periodically.


Example 1. Speed enforcement waves can be conducted several times a month for a few hours, immediately after rush hour when motorists are attempting to make up lost time due to traffic congestion.

Example 2. DWI Waves may be conducted two weekends in one month from 10 pm - 2 am or target a special event that is occurring (e.g., festival, sporting event, St. Patrick's Day).

Integrated Enforcement
High visibility enforcement strategies and elements incorporated into your everyday enforcement. Integrating high visibility traffic enforcement as a standard practice lets the public know that traffic enforcement is an agency priority. It also assists in reducing other crimes while at the same time creates general deterrence and encourages voluntary compliance of traffic laws.


Multi-jurisdictional efforts combine your resources and your efforts with neighboring jurisdictions including “non-traditional” agencies (e.g., park police, campus police, ABC officers, game wardens, etc.)


The multi-jurisdictional approach is a critical countermeasure in traffic safety.  When you have more participating agencies, you create a greater police presence, which in turn creates general deterrence because it increases the risk (or perceived risk) that the motoring public will be caught.  The enforcement must be highly visible and include an equal balance of enforcement and publicity.


Some benefits of multi-jurisdictional efforts:

  • Provides increased staffing for smaller agencies
  • Expands area of enforcement
  • Expands media opportunities and exposure
  • Helps establish or reinforce cooperation among law enforcement
  • Increases visibility and law enforcement presence





You have to put cops on the dots. We're not getting any more money, so you have to put cops where the problem areas are, using data.”  -- Lt. William Brown, Milwaukee County Sheriffs Office, Milwaukee, WI

High visibility enforcement should be conducted in locations that are chosen based on data. Enforcement should be in areas that are easily visible to the motoring public and indicate a specific enforcement need due to crashes or crashes and crime. Using geo-mapping to identify “hot spots” – areas of high incidence of crimes and crashes will help you target locations where your enforcement can play two roles in fighting crime and reducing crashes and traffic violations.


Choosing a location that is a high volume traffic area will assist with the visibility of your enforcement efforts. People will see you out there enforcing the traffic laws. This helps create general deterrence and voluntary compliance of laws. 


More information on Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS)




The HVE concept is a departure from traditional law enforcement tactics.  HVE incorporates enforcement strategies, such as enhanced patrols using visibility elements (e.g. electronic message boards, road signs, command posts, BAT mobiles, etc.) designed to make enforcement efforts obvious to the public. The goal of HVE is to make the motoring public aware of your enforcement efforts and create deterrence. When the perceived risk of getting caught by law enforcement goes up, the likelihood that people will engage in unsafe driving behaviors goes down. 


Choose some or all of these visibility elements to enhance your enforcement:

  • Road signs: electronic message boards, pop-up road signs, billboards, etc.
  • Specially marked squads
  • Magnetic HVE signs on patrol vehicles or window clings
  • Specially marked BATmobiles or other command vehicles
  • Specially marked vests
  • Flyers/brochures or business cards handed out to motorists


Click here for examples of these visibility elements



Prior to conducting your HVE program, ensure that all officers who will be deployed are current on their training and certifications.  Conduct refresher training as required.   Courses that should be delivered to all officers participating in your HVE may include the following

  • Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST)
  • Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)
  • Vehicle Contact



It’s not about increasing the number of tickets; it’s about changing unsafe traffic behaviors and increasing safety in the areas we patrol.”  -- Travis Knick, Cary Police Department, Cary, North Carolina


Measuring effectiveness will be different for each individual agency and type of enforcement.  If you are working with a funding source such as your State Highway Safety Office, they will have specific information they want you to report. Check your funding requirements for guidance.


Collecting data will highlight goals that are being accomplished, identify gaps, and help you evaluate the overall effectiveness of your program.


Remember: HVE is designed to change unlawful traffic behaviors and reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities. It is not a strategy designed to increase arrests; in fact, it may yield decreased citation counts over time


What to Measure

“I release average blood alcohol concentration, number of refusals, number of crashes and fatalities, and decreases in crashes.”  -- Warren Diepraam, Assistant District Attorney, Harris County, Texas



When planning your HVE program, it is important to include evaluation early in your planning, so that you can collect data before your event.  This data will then be used to measure the amount of change in the behaviors of the motoring public after your HVE has concluded.


Process (Qualitative Evaluation) 

The qualitative evaluation is a look at the success of meeting your HVE program activities—did you do what you planned to do.  It looks at activities conducted that may have resulted in a change of behavior.  Questions answered in a process evaluation may include:

  • Did we fully implement our program?
  • Did we follow our strategic plan?
  • If we used a multi-jurisdictional approach, did all partner agencies fully participate?
  • How many partner organizations visibly and vocally supported our program?
  • Did we execute our publicity plan—send out the planned number of press releases, make the desired number of follow-up calls, brief as many editorial boards as planned?
  • How many interviews were conducted?
  • How many articles were published?
  • Did the public pick up materials (flyers, stickers, etc.) that were made available?


Outcome (Quantitative Evaluation) 

Quantitative evaluations look at numbers, data, and statistics to measure the impact of the program.  Some common measures include:

  • Number of stops
  • Number of citations or arrests
  • Type of citation or arrest
  • Decreases in crashes, injury and fatality
  • Increase in seat belt use
  • Observational studies (number of belts used, number of vehicles left in bar parking lots, etc.)


Remember, the ultimate goal is not to increase the number of arrests or citations, but to change unsafe driving behaviors.



Surveys can be particularly useful in measuring the effectiveness of media and publicity.  Surveys can be conducted in many ways:  focus groups, interviews, mail or email questionnaires, Internet survey instruments such as Survey Monkey, etc. 


Questions that may be asked to determine the effectiveness of your media and publicity campaign include:

  • Did the message reach the target audience?
  • Does the public know the tag line?
  • Did the public pay attention to the message?
  • Does the public believe there was increased enforcement?
  • Does the public perceive a greater risk of receiving a citation or being arrested?
  • Did the public change their behavior because of the media messages?


 Putting Your Evaluation to Work 


Based on analyses of data from previous deployments, you will be able to:

  • Adjust your enforcement strategy, including location, time of day, day of week.
  • Adjust your marketing and publicity to better reach your target your audience.
  • Determine the need for additional training.
  • Reallocate budget and resources.
  • Announce the success of your HVE program and thank the community for its support.


Ensure the public sees high levels of enforcement activity.
Tell the public why the law is being enforced.
Visibility Elements
Show the public what is being enforced.
>> BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: Implementing or enhancing your HVE effort
>> RESOURCES: Frequently Asked Questions, Quick Picks Toolkit, Partners

U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
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Washington, DC 20590
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