Traffic Accidents Big Concern for Law Enforcement

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In 2004, 72 officers were killed nationwide in traffic accidents. That's compared to just 57 officers who died as a result of gunshot wounds.

Local law enforcement officials say those numbers are a reason why traffic safety is stressed so much these days.

Sheriff Ashley Paulk of Lowndes County says, “There are different ways to do it. We actually try and teach some of our guys something when traffic is heavy, you're better off not running sirens, things like that. When you're on the interstate, people will just stop in their lane."

Officer safety isn't just a main concern for one local agency. In fact, Valdosta police have many procedures in place to protect officers anytime they're out and about on traffic patrols.

CAPT Brian Childress with Valdosta police adds, "When we pull a vehicle over, we ask our officers to space their vehicle a little over to the left of the violator's vehicle, that way when the officer approaches you have your cop car protecting you and the violator's vehicle."

And with thousands of traffic stops and countless hours of patrol, local officers say it's no surprise that traffic duty is the most deadly.

Childress adds, "I would say pulling a vehicle over on I-75 would be as dangerous as going to a domestic violence case if you're not careful about it."