Published: December 23, 2014 | Los Angeles, United States
Starting next month, the Los Angeles Police Department will track how officers drive patrol cars in an effort to reduce the number of cruiser crashes. About 50 LAPD patrol cars in the Central and Valley bureaus will transmit real-time driving data from black boxes inside the vehicles as part of a one-year pilot program.
Each unit installed in the patrol vehicles costs about $280. It’ll track and transmit how fast the car was traveling, whether seatbelts and the light bar were in use and how hard the driver slammed on the brakes.
For years, the Los Angeles Police Department has tried to cut back on the number of police car crashes to avoid costly lawsuits, pricey vehicles repairs, or worse, deadly collisions that kill citizens or officers.
Three years ago, the city paid a $5 million to the family of a 25-year old woman who died when an LAPD patrol car crashed into her in 2009. The city paid $6.6 million to another family for a police crash that killed a 27-year old woman in 2010.
The LAPD began researching telematics programs about a year and a half ago. Commercial delivery companies like UPS and FedEx use telematics to improve efficiencies in fuel costs and delivery routes. For the last six months, the LAPD has been working with Aliso Viejo-based tech company Telogis to develop the software.
Every 30 seconds data will be transmitted using cellular connections to the company’s servers. LAPD watch commanders, command staff and driving trainers can access the reports. The software can customize scorecards that rate driving safety performance by officer or vehicle.
The telematics system could send a text message to the watch commander or supervisor on duty when a patrol car’s airbags are deployed to indicating officers were involved in a crash. That could get emergency help to the scene faster.
The law enforcement telematics program could be advantageous for Ford. It discontinued the long-time law enforcement favorite Crown Victoria series in 2011. Ford has partnered with Telogis to pre-install the data-tracking program in its latest series of law enforcement vehicles.
For the last three months, the LAPD has been testing three patrol vehicles on the track simulating high-speed vehicle pursuits to see what data can be pulled. The true test is finding ways to use data from real car chases or when officers are speeding to answer calls.