Traffic accidents are claiming a growing number of U.S. law-enforcement officers’ lives each year, especially in Florida, as the number of officers shot to death declines, the Orlando Sentinel reports. So far this year, 154 law-enforcement officers have died in the line of duty, slightly below the average for the past 10 years. But 72 of those deaths were attributed to traffic accidents, compared with 57 officers who died from shootings. The others died of various causes, from aircraft accidents to job-related illnesses.
In Florida, traffic claimed an even larger share of officer deaths. Thirteen officers died in Florida this year, up from seven in 2003. Ten of them died in vehicle accidents. Two Florida officers were shot to death this year, the same number as the previous year. “The larger proportion of deaths from traffic accidents is the big trend we’ve seen over the past several years,” said Chris Beakey of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which issued a study yesterday on officer deaths along with the organization Concerns of Police Survivors. Beakey said wider use by law officers of bulletproof vests and improved training have helped reduce the number of fatal shootings of officers. The organization is advocating better driver training and safer vehicles to cut traffic-accident fatalities.