Bulletin Reports

The Impact of In-Car Communication on Law Enforcement Officer Patrol Performance

Based on the findings of a project that assessed the impact of radio communications on patrol officers’ visual attention and situation awareness while driving, there is some evidence that officers’ driving performance was affected when using certain communication codes. When 10-codes were used in radio communications with dispatch, variability in lane offset was reduced compared with the baseline patrol condition when no radio communication was being used. There was no evidence of any difference between the baseline patrol condition and naturalistic language conditions. The study also indicated that there was no evidence that the breadth of eye movements was impacted by radio communication, the format of radio communication, or the use of the in-vehicle terminal to display dispatch instructions. There was no indication that the format of radio communication or the use of the in-vehicle terminal impacted officer looks at the display. Situation awareness performance was worse in the 10-codes with static display condition and in the naturalistic language with dynamic display when compared with the baseline patrol condition. There was no evidence of a significant difference between the display conditions when radio communication used naturalistic language. The study employed 14 municipal patrol officers from 3 regional law enforcement agencies. They ranged in age from 26 to 45 years old with an average of 7 years of experience in patrol duty. Twelve of the officers reported actively using 10-codes. Three factors were manipulated in the study: presence of radio traffic, format of radio communication, and redundant display of dispatch communication.

For additional information on this study, go to https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=266016, October 2013, NCJ 243939.