The statistics are out, and people are on back on the road. AAA, for example, predicted movement over the recent Thanksgiving holiday would include 48.3 million people traveling by car. It follows that more car travel results in more motor vehicle violations. From November 24 through November 28 of this year, for instance, the small state of Connecticut saw 501 speeding violations, 118 seatbelt violations, and 559 other hazardous violations. These included unsafe lane changes, following too closely, distracted driving, and more, according to state police statistics.

As family and friends continue to gather more frequently, there is no doubt that cars on roads — and resulting citations — will rise as well. Speeding, running a red light, having an outdated registration, missing a taillight, and other infractions compel officers to pull drivers over to the side of the road. Most of us have probably experienced being pulled over by a police officer at least once. Other, luckier, drivers are certainly familiar with traffic stops from movies and television references.

Roadside Risks

What is less familiar is the significant back-end work that goes into the resulting traffic tickets. From the perspective of the responding officer, time on the side of the road is always risky. Standing unprotected near fast-moving traffic is an ever-present danger, along with a myriad of other roadside hazards, particularly moving into winter weather in parts of the country. As new COVID-19 variants appear and cases continue to spike in different regions, personal contact between an officer and driver poses added risks to both parties.

Safer Ticketing

In a usual situation, the one we are most familiar with, the officer collects ID and registration documents from the driver and goes back into the squad car to work on a paper citation.

New technology innovations, however, can make that transaction quicker by making it electronic. With handheld electronic citation technology, officers can significantly limit contact with the driver and reduce their own time on the road. Such technology works on hardware (MDTs and tablets) in Windows as well as iOS and Android devices. An app on an officer’s device, for example, can eliminate the need even to collect paperwork, as scanners automatically capture the necessary data without physically collecting the violator’s documents.

At present, 12 million citations are processed annually. On average, hand-held, electronic ticketing technology decreases a traffic stop from 10 minutes to just three. If this were applied to all citations, a significant and beneficial realignment of resources could occur. And limiting physical contact in the COVID-19 context is an even more significant benefit to all involved.

Better Data

A digital system like this makes traffic stops more efficient for all parties while also ensuring the accuracy of data. The data captured during a stop can be transmitted electronically to integrated courts and records systems, right from the officer’s device, streamlining the ticketing process for all stakeholders. Integrated systems surface NCIC and warrant data right away, giving officers essential knowledge and improved situational awareness. Digital transmission also prevents citations from being thrown out in court due to illegible handwriting or other manual errors.

Electronic citation and apps’ data uses extend beyond traffic citations to include crash reports, parking violations, code enforcement, stop data reports, and criminal trespass warnings. Enhanced statistical reports from the collected data provide supervisors, other agencies, and the public with accessible, accurate information. When decision makers and collaborators work from up-to-date information, better policy decisions and resource allocation result, improving the experience for officers on the ground as well as the communities they serve.

Web-based architecture behind these new technology tools gives departments control of their information, and either cloud or hosted software approaches eliminate the need for physical server space in departments.

Future Promise

Beyond putting distance between an officer and driver amidst pandemic concerns, electronic citation technology increases officer safety and processing efficiency. What’s more, agencies that leverage these tools for improved data insights and automatic data sharing will benefit from smarter policy decisions that lead to safer officers, safer roads, and safer communities.

Innovations in Digital Ticketing

Hand-held, electronic ticketing can streamline not only the ticketing process but also important data collection. Visit this website to explore how agencies can leverage this technology to improve accuracy, efficiency, and officer safety.