4 Ways eCitations Improve Efficiency & Increase Safety During Police Traffic Stops
U.S. drivers are on the move. In March 2022 alone, motorists drove 277.4 billion miles— 7.9 billion miles more than March 20211. And that rise in road time likely means a correlating rise in car accidents, traffic violations, police traffic stops, and traffic-related citations.
The Disadvantages of Traditional Police Traffic Stops
For civilians, tickets can be frustrating. For law enforcement personnel, police traffic stops can be dangerous—or even deadly. Time spent on the road puts police officers in the line of oncoming traffic, and their efforts can be in vain if the tickets aren’t written or processed correctly. When police officers use traditional citation processes and tools:
- The average traffic stop takes 10 to 15 minutes2
- Officers must spend time manually entering information into the processing system—which means less time protecting their community, and more time doing paperwork
- Ticket processing generally takes up to 12 days3
10-15% of handwritten law enforcement citations are dismissed because they are deemed “illegible”2
Police Traffic Stops Can Be Deadly for Officers
While it varies from region to region, the traffic stop is likely to be the most common police interaction that civilians have. And every time an officer gets out of their car for this interaction, there is potential for injury—or even death. The combination of fast-moving vehicles, multiple distractions, and possible motorist hostility can make many police traffic stops dangerous—or deadly—for law enforcement officials.
In the first half of 2018, traffic-related fatalities accounted for over 36% of officer deaths4, with a quarter of those deaths occurring roadside. While most factors of a traffic stop are outside of the control of law enforcement, there is something that departments can improve: the citation process itself.
Law Enforcement Citations Get An Upgrade
By improving citation processes, departments are able to decrease the amount of time that their officers spend on the side of the road while increasing backend efficiency. An eCitation is faster and more efficient than traditional paper citations because ticketing time is drastically shortened from 10-15 minutes to under 5 minutes2, and driver and citation information is automatically loaded into the officer’s database.
In fact, many state legislatures and local governments have implemented laws mandating the adoption of eTicketing systems as a measure to keep their officers safe. But even with clear benefits, things like tight budgets and challenging software integrations are in the forefront of the minds of decision makers. Luckily, these challenges can be mitigated by considering the ROI benefits of an easily integrated eCitation system.
Top Four Benefits of Electronic Traffic Citations & Mobile Printing
- eCitations may increase safety and reduce fatalities. Because information is automatically scanned and populated in the citation system, officers spend less time with their heads down writing tickets—which lowers their situational awareness. And eCitations can shorten the amount of time officers spend on the side of a road by 50%5, reducing how long they’re left vulnerable to traffic hazards.
- eCitations are more accurate. With traditional hand-written tickets, officers must copy down information by hand—often as quickly as possible, and with traffic whizzing by. And if their writing is illegible, the ticket can be thrown out. eCitations are a different story. Because officers can scan and populate citation data on a mobile device and print onsite with a durable and reliable mobile printer, they tout a 98%6 accuracy rate.
- eCitations improve overall efficiency. Traditionally, law enforcement citation data is manually uploaded to municipal, police, or court Record Management Systems—a process that can take up to 12 days3.This re-entry process increases the likelihood of human error in the ticketing system and takes away time that an officer could use in the field. eTicketing enables officers to digitally input and upload the ticket information in seconds at the traffic stop, eliminating the need to return to the office to enter the information into the system.
- eCitations lead to greater satisfaction, revenue, and ROI. With faster ticketing and processing, officers spend more time helping and protecting their communities, which leads to higher job satisfaction overall. And as less tickets get thrown out due to legibility or error, departments nationwide can recover a combined amount of up to $900 million2* per year in lost revenue. Finally, faster ticketing gets officers off the road and drivers back on the road, reducing frustration and dangerous conditions for both parties.
eTicketing in Action: Finding the Right Solution for Your Department
According to now-retired Police Lieutenant John Pettinger, the wide-spread rollout of a records management system and eCitation solution was one of the most impactful technology upgrades that he saw in his 33 years in a major metropolitan police department.
Following the implementation of the records management solution, Pettinger’s department began using mobile printers and eCitation technology to create real-time printed booking slips related to arrests, but quickly expanded use of the solutions to other areas of the department.
In addition to providing the benefits like cost savings, improved efficiency, and greater officer safety, the department also:
Pettinger—who spent 18 of his 33 years on the force working with IT-related functions— worked with his team to carefully consider the best solutions when it came to onboarding software and hardware related to eTicketing. When it comes to ensuring the department has the right tools in place, he offers the following advice:
- Consider your officers’ environment. Do they deal with extreme temperatures throughout the year? Do they use patrol cars, motorcycles, or bikes—or a combination of all three? Identifying these factors will help you decide what type and size of hardware you need, as well as the right mounting equipment.
- Choose rugged, durable equipment. Pettinger and his team needed solutions that would still be operating at peak levels—even 10 years after installation. Look for easy-to-maintain solutions that can be paired with equally rugged accessories.
- Find solutions that can improve your ROI. When seeking approval or buy-in from your department to bring on these new solutions, focus on the ROI benefits of a digital ticketing solution, as well as the data and analytics that automated reporting can bring to the department. Finally, be sure to pair your digital ticketing solution with affordable but rugged mobile printers that can stand up to the wear and tear of the job.
To learn more about Pettinger’s experience and tips for onboarding new tools, read the full eBook here.
How To Onboard A Successful eCitation Solution
eCitations are seeing a widespread adoption across the United States, and it’s likely that your officers are already using one or more main components of an eCitation solution. For a ready-to-go eCitation solution, equip your officers with:
- A mobile computer. Your officers will likely already have a laptop or tablet computer, ready to be paired with a connected and compatible mobile printer.
- A barcode scanner, which might already be embedded into the mobile computing technology your officers use today.
- A customizable software solution that can easily integrate into your current Records Management Systems (RMS) and court systems.
- A reliable, durable mobile printer purpose-built for small spaces, multiple configurations, and diverse uses.
And when choosing the right mobile solution, opt for:
- Easy-to-learn hardware that makes it simple for officers to utilize the technology
- Seamless integration with existing systems from a partner that can grow as new systems are adopted
- Reliable product availability so you have access to inventory when it’s needed most
- Durable construction and comprehensive warranty policies that protect your printer hardware on the front lines
No matter how large or small your department may be, eCitations can help keep your community and officers safe while increasing efficiency, satisfaction, and ROI. With all the benefits of an eTicketing solution, it’s clear that eCitations provide organizations vastly more value than outdated manual and paper-based processes.