Motor vehicle crashes are a major public health problem. Each year, more than 41,000 people are killed and more than 3 million individuals are injured on our Nation's roadways. The economic impact on our country as a result of these deaths and injuries exceeds $150 billion annually. One traffic enforcement method being implemented in law enforcement agencies across the country is Motorcycle Traffic Enforcement. These patrol units are assisting law enforcement agencies in their efforts to reduce the incidences of aggressive driving, impaired driving, speeding, and red light running. Other priority enforcement concerns for agencies at all levels are seatbelt and child safety seat usage, for which motorcycle patrol units could play a significant role in assisting with enforcement.
Use of the Motorcycle Patrol Unit dates to 1909, when mounted officers abandoned their horses in lieu of transportation that could keep up with the rapidly evolving motor vehicle. (The horse-mounted officer heritage can still be seen in the present day motorcycle patrol officer uniform.)
Today, many law enforcement agencies have improved their traffic safety services by restoring and/or have started motorcycle patrol units. These specialized enforcement units are capable of diverse assignments and have proven to be beneficial in their ability to easily access traffic crash scenes on congested roadways. Motorcycles, due to their build, can reach a crash scene more quickly than their four-wheeled counterparts. This allows officers to provide a rapid response in assessing the damage and arranging for necessary emergency medical services. It also allows the officer to begin a preliminary crash investigation and determine what resources will be needed to restore the normal flow of traffic. This immediate response not only aids in preventing serious injuries or even death, but also may reduce the incidence of secondary crashes triggered by the initial incident. Thus, lessening the impact a crash has on the motoring public.
In rural residential areas, where narrow streets make it difficult to deploy patrol cars as an observation platform, motorcycle patrol units are often used to enforce traffic statutes. In this application, motorcycle patrol officers can also assume a community-policing role. Citizens typically tend to be more comfortable approaching an officer on a motorcycle without the perceived barrier of an enclosed vehicle. Often, the mere presence of the motorcycle is enough to foster a dialogue between the officer and citizen.
Motorcycle patrol officers have also been called upon to conduct traffic safety presentations to various civic groups and organizations and are frequently used for dignitary escort and ceremonial duties.