Dr. Stephenie Slahor
The NLELP uses multiple tools to reach out to a vast network in support of national, regional and state safety campaigns, sharing traffic safety news, information and more.
A few years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Governors’ Highway Safety Association (GHSA) jointly created the National Law Enforcement Liaison Program (NLELP – nlelp.org) to enhance the work of state highway safety offices and law enforcement communities. The game plan created the Law Enforcement Liaison, or LEL, which works in such diverse areas as highway safety, news, campaigns, traffic safety projects, legal aspects, and networking.
A typical LEL is composed of both sworn and retired law enforcement officials who work on a contractual basis or under a grant from the State Highway Safety Office to work toward sustained and effective traffic enforcement programs. The LEL directory lists ten regions and coordinators as representatives for all of the states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, the Northern Marianas, American Samoa, Guam, and the Indian Nations.
The vast majority of the work of the NLELP program focuses on reducing fatal and serious injury crashes through targeted and aggressive, high visibility enforcement campaigns using the cooperation of LELs. More than 240 regional, state and local LELs currently exist, working on such programs as “Click It or Ticket”; reductions in impaired driving; and proactive planning and management of projects aimed at highway and traffic safety.
Recent safety campaigns include distracted driving, speeding, railway safety, and heatstroke/hot cars awareness. Weekly traffic safety E-mails, podcasts, social media accounts, Webinars, and videos round out the multiple tools the NLELP uses along with its quarterly newsletter – and it’s all available free to users and subscribers of the NLELP Web site.
To enhance communication among the participants, the NLELP has a listserv in use as a forum for information exchanges, questions, news items, officer safety, training, and special projects. To become a subscriber, just E-mail your name, E-mail address, position, and agency to Tim Burrows at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among the projects described recently through the NLELP was the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety’s Twitter feed about tire safety – a topic important in light of the deaths and injuries which occur directly related to tires. To drive down the numbers of such accidents and to promote public awareness via https://tinyurl.com/2bkp93kp, the word went out that only about 19 percent of consumers properly check and/or inflate their tires, even though tires lose about one pound per square inch of pressure each month. Additionally, one in four cars has at least one tire which is significantly underinflated which is not only unsafe, but also lowers gas mileage for 0.3 percent for every pound per square inch drop in pressure. Tires need to be checked at least annually for the wear and tear caused by driving and by sunlight and heat, and tires should be rotated about every 5000 to 8000 miles.
Such public service notices on social media serve as a quick, but cogent reminder, or an “I didn’t know that” piece of knowledge which increases a driver’s awareness of how to make tires safer and last longer.
In this day and age, social media works well in giving accessible, but effective, awareness notices which give drivers food for thought in a concise message, but that’s only part of the picture at the NLELP. The organization’s Web site also posts highway and traffic safety stories, ideas and projects to keep users and subscribers up to date with what is innovative and effective.
No Cost Newsletter
The LEL Newsletter is a free quarterly publication highlighting news, events, best practices, and training to keep the full LEL network informed about activities and safety problems. Subscribing is easy and free of charge on the home page of the Web site. Recent newsletter issues have covered such topics as pedestrian safety, legal decisions, reducing officer deaths and serious injuries, seat belt use policies, child safety, distracted driving, underage drinking, police-community partnerships, and leadership.
The NLELP posted information about the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Annual Summer Conference. That organization renewed its commitment to increased traffic safety training, communication and networking to better community relations and to improve traffic safety data. The organization’s panel on traffic safety was recorded and saved to a Webinar, available for free viewing from the NLELP at https://tinyurl.com/yftchsc7
Targeting these and related problems in highway and traffic safety often needs the help of partners and the NLELP has a full bank of these including the US Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; links to state Drug Recognition Expert Coordinators; and such organizational partners as the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, Citizens Against Drug Impaired Driving, Citizens Against Speeding and Aggressive Driving, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Road Safety Foundation, and the National Sheriffs’ Association, among many others.
New Traffic Safety Products
New products can play a role in traffic safety, such as the NLELP’s recent story about research into alcohol detection sensors – a technology which could be ready to be installed in America’s vehicles if the US Congress considers legislation which would make alcohol prevention technology mandatory in new cars and trucks. Using an embedded sensor which can measure a driver’s blood alcohol level, a test determines if the driver is above a certain threshold level. If so, the vehicle will not start. The tests can either capture the driver’s breath and pull it into a sensor which uses a beam of infrared light to calculate blood alcohol concentration, or the test can use a touch-based system built into the car’s ignition button or gear shift, with tiny lasers which read the alcohol level below the surface of the driver’s finger. Again, the NLELP Web site carried the details of this news, free to read, at https://tinyurl.com/k8su6y9s
Yet another news article focused on Idaho’s data which indicates aggressive driving is a contributing factor in half of all vehicle crashes in that state. Most involve making a choice to speed; following another car too closely; running a red light; ignoring a stop sign; weaving in traffic; or not using turn signals. The original news release appears at shift-idaho.org/aggressive-driving.
Recorded Webinars from the NLELP are posted in such topics as preparing for summer driving safety (from Memorial Day to Labor Day); creative strategies and campaigns for safety; and the best uses of an LEL in some timely problems, such as accountability, police funding and procedure reimagining. Although the recent pandemic forced cancellation of some in-person training courses and conferences, virtual meetings have taken place instead.
Of course, some projects take money to begin or run successfully and the NLELP can be a source of news about grants. As an example, a recent article described how the Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, extended its 18 year commitment to improving teen driving skills by awarding grants to state highway safety offices in Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New York, Tennessee, and Utah. The grants seek to reduce vehicle crashes by teen drivers – the leading cause of death for teenage drivers, with almost half of such crashes due to speeding. The article can be read at https://tinyurl.com/wrcu6v7p
Traffic safety enforcement is only part of the picture, though, and the NLELP helps fill the legal aspects gap with “Tips To Testify” and discussions of court cases involving officer procedures and traffic/highway safety. These can be found at nlelp.org/best-practices/tips-to-testify/ Among the recent posts are stories about how juries think, standards of proof, written reports and past recollections, lay witnesses vs. expert witnesses, and self-represented litigants.
So, if it’s updates, information or resources you are seeking for your highway and traffic enforcement policies, procedures and projects, log on to NLELP.org for the help you need. They are there for the asking!
The ultimate goal of traffic safety and enforcement is to save lives. High visibility enforcement works effectively when deterring vehicle operators from engaging in unsafe driving behaviors and practices.
There are numerous manufacturers who provide equipment for aiding law enforcement in their mission to keep the roads safe for all of us. Below are a number of these manufacturers.
Ekin Smart City Solutions
The Ekin X Spotter is a portable, smart AI-based traffic enforcement system which performs Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) and speed and violation detection of the vehicles in its field of view.
With its compact design and size, the Ekin X Spotter can be mounted to a vehicle or pole, or used on a tripod to provide traffic management. With high resolution video from its 4K motor-zoom image sensor, Ekin X Spotter records photos and videos continuously without losing focus or sharpness.
This video-based number plate recognition technology, for up to four lanes of traffic, records not only the moment the violation takes place, but also the entire traffic flow.
All of the data gathered is centrally managed by Ekin’s proprietary software, Ekin Red Eagle OS. The software compares databases in real time and generates alerts so that law enforcement officials can respond quickly.
More information can be found at https://ekin.com/en/ekin-x-spotter
JAMAR Technologies, Inc.
For more than 40 years, JAMAR Technologies has been providing traffic data recorders to law enforcement so that they can gather the hard evidence of when and where speeding is a problem. This allows them to effectively address citizens’ speeding complaints.
The Law Enforcement Radar Recorder with STARnext software allows users to gather the evidence, analyze it and present the results in an easy to understand report.
The Law Enforcement Radar sensing antenna is housed in a small (12″ x 10″) Pelican™ case along with a 12V lithium battery which allows the unit to be portable and run for up to ten days. The case is strapped to a pole near the side of the road and pointed toward the traffic. The radar detects vehicles as they pass in each direction on the road and stores the speed and length of each individual vehicle. After the study period (typically a week) has ended, the data is downloaded to the STARnext software which has extensive reporting options.
A link to their Web site can be found at jamartech.com/le-radar
Kustom Signals, Inc.
Kustom Signals has been providing traffic safety equipment for more than 50 years, designing and manufacturing radar, LiDAR, video solutions and speed calming devices. Some of their flagship law enforcement products include the Eyewitness HD, Vantage, LaserCam 4, ProLaser 4, and Eagle 3 directional police radar.
Kustom Signals has recently released their new PMD 10 and 12 portable radar displays. The highly visible amber LED displays are available in two sizes (10″ or 12″ characters), with a flashing violator alert, red/blue light bar violator alert and white LED strobe violator alert. The unit is powered by a 24 amp hour rechargeable battery with options for solar and AC power configurations.
Also available is their SMART® 18 RADAR Speed Trailer. Designed for maximum visibility, the 18″ LED display is visible up to 1,250 feet. The SMART18 includes a weatherproof storage box for speed signs, equipment and batteries, and it operates with low power K-band directional radar. SMARTstat™ wireless data analysis and configuration software is included.
For more information, visit kustomsignals.com
Leonardo/ELSAG ALPR Systems
Leonardo is a top ten global player in Aerospace, Defense and Security. Through its US subsidiary, Selex ES Inc., it has developed and manufactured a portfolio of ELSAG ALPR solutions which are used by nearly 4,000 customers in over 25 countries.
Leonardo’s ELSAG Fixed Plate Hunter™ ALPR system can be mounted to bridges, overpasses and other structures for constant monitoring. It is comprised of digital cameras with built-in processors, a Field Control Unit (FCU) and proprietary software which captures images of license plates, crosschecking each with hot lists to identify vehicles of interest. Alarms are broadcast in real time to a command center, patrolling vehicles and/or mobile devices for immediate reaction. The data captured can also be reviewed for relevant periods of time, aiding investigations.
ELSAG also offers ALPR upfitted radar trailers or variable message boards which provide the benefits of speed monitoring or variable messaging along with ALPR.
To learn more about Leonardo/ELSAG’s products, visit leonardocompany-us.com
The MissionGO Video Command Center (VCC), in combination with an unmanned aircraft (sUAS), is a tool law enforcement agencies are currently using for traffic management. The VCC and a sUAS are used at an accident or traffic incident to provide a live view back to a statewide operations center, helping them determine the correct use of temporary traffic control devices and methods.
The VCC can run on AC or DC power; uses an agency’s current Wi-Fi connection and a Windows® operating system; and features an integrated 22″ monitor and a wireless handheld keyboard with touchpad. It connects wirelessly with the sUAS using most iOS or Android devices.
The MissionGO sUAS Startup Program provides training and helps you to establish a UAS program which will help maintain public safety in the community. Two days of hands-on UAS flight operations training (including night ops) and guidance for taking the FAA exam are provided, along with a textbook, software and other training materials.
To learn more about their products, visit missiongo.io
Radarsign was founded in 2004 by Ken Bass, a former Georgia state trooper turned business manager; Barry Ward, a laser-optics, electrography and microprocessor engineer; and Charlie Robeson, a sales and marketing executive. Together, they launched Radarsign with a goal to make roads safer by slowing speeding drivers.
Two of their most popular traffic safety products include the TC-600 full matrix sign and the TC-400 sign.
The TC-600 full matrix radar speed sign offers multiple display options and is available in AC and solar power models. The speed and message displays feature 13″ tall numbers which make them easily readable up to 600 feet away. Standard alerts include SPEED (three flash rate options), SLOW DOWN and TOO FAST, along with optional message and strobe alerts.
The TC-400 sign is a portable, battery powered radar speed sign which was designed to be easily moved and used in different locations.
With a modular design, the front radar speed sign housing and the rear battery housing of the sign cabinet detach from each other, providing ease of portability. The TC-400 includes a universal mounting bracket which can be installed on any size/style pole in just a couple of minutes. Additional brackets left on poles allow you to create a circuit to regularly rotate the sign location with ease, allowing same day response to speeding complaints.
Radarsign put together a virtual trade show earlier this year which can be viewed on YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/2kjrx24c
Stephenie Slahor, Ph.D., JD, is a writer in the fields of law enforcement and security. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Interstate Message Sign Effectiveness
Variable Message Signs (VMS) are often used on roadways to give travelers information about special events, as well as warnings of traffic congestion, accidents and road construction.
VMS systems were deployed as early as the 1950s on the New Jersey Turnpike. The NJ Turnpike’s signs of that period (and up to around 2012) were capable of displaying a few messages in neon, all oriented around warning drivers to slow down: “REDUCE SPEED,” followed by a warning.
Recently, the Virginia Department of Transportation has reported on a Virginia Tech study which provides evidence that some messages are memorable and more effective.
The Virginia Tech Cognitive Research Team compiled 1,200 unique messages ranging from rhymes, holiday themes and pop culture references, then gathered 300 drivers in four regions of Virginia to participate in their study. Participants viewed 16 blocks of five similar messages while wearing a fNIRS instrument – a “helmet like” device which measures the increase in oxygenated blood in the prefrontal cortex which serves as an indicator for increased attention.
The study determined that humor and wordplay, followed by holiday or seasonal messages and pop culture generated the greatest brain activity.
Jason Bond, District Communications Manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation stated that “We feel like with the creative messages people tend to take note of this. Anything that we can do to tie into popular culture or what people can relate to is certainly a way to get those safety messages out there and hopefully change driver behavior.”
Over 90% of drivers in Virginia who participated in the study did not perceive a single message as inappropriate. It was also determined that messages should focus on holiday timing and themes to produce the best outcome.
A copy of the PowerPoint® presentation of the study can be downloaded at
Some of the messages used on the roads in Virginia and in the study included the following:
- NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A HOT CAR
- BE A FIREWORK, SPARK RESPONSIBLE DRIVING
- WHAT’S SCARIER – YOUR COSTUME OR YOUR DRIVING?
- ZERO FATALITIES, A GHOUL WE CAN ALL LIVE WITH
- SANTA’S COMING, HAVE YOU BEEN A GOOD DRIVER?
- BE ON SANTA’S NICE LIST, DRIVE POLITELY
- SECURE THE FUTURE, BUCKLE YOUR CHILD
- SEE YOUR BFF TONIGHT, BUCKLE UP
- BUCKLE UP, SAVE $25 AND YOUR LIFE
- DON’T MAKE ME STOP THIS CAR! BUCKLE UP
- AWWWWW SNAP! YOUR SEAT BELT!
- PEACE, LOVE, SEAT BELTS
- GOLD MEDAL DRIVERS DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE
- MAKE IT TO THE END ZONE, DRIVE ALERT
- DON’T LET SAFETY BE A HAIL MARY, DRIVE ALERT
- PLAY BALL! STRIKE THE DISTRACTIONS
- BLOW THE WHISTLE ON DISTRACTED DRIVING
- GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR APPS
- TEXTING WHILE DRIVING? OH, CELL NO
- DON’T DRIVE IN-TEXT-ICATED
- AVOID AN APPSIDENT, PHONES DOWN
- TEXTING AND DRIVING IS CLEVER, SAID NO ONE EVER
- WHO YA GONNA CALL? NOBODY. YOU’RE DRIVING
- YOU HAD ME AT “I DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE!”
- THE FORCE IS STRONG WHEN YOU PUT DOWN THE PHONE
- WE PITY THE FOOL WHO TEXTS AND DRIVES
- NO TEXT IS WORTH A LIFE
- MOM NEEDS YOUR HUG, NOT YOUR TEXT
- SPEEDING IS UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT
- MARCH MADNESS? KEEP AGGRESSION ON THE COURT
- NO SHOT CLOCK DRIVING A CAR, SLOW DOWN
- KEEP RIVALRIES OFF THE ROAD, DRIVE CALM