According to POST (California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training), California law enforcement are injured in roughly 700 automobile collisions each year. Conventional wisdom holds that it is younger officers who get into the most high-speed pursuit accidents, either because of inexperience, poor judgement, poor control of their emotions, or a combination of all three. But is this true?
ARE YOUNGER OFFICERS WORSE AT HIGH-SPEED PURSUIT DRIVING?
While we now have a better understanding of what policies, training, and equipment can reduce officer injuries and deaths due to assault, research into officer vehicle collisions is scant. That said, most current research indicates that age does not seem to be a primary factor. Neither the oldest nor youngest officers form the bulk of those killed in the line of duty during high-speed pursuit or in other traffic-related incidents.
According to the data included in POST’s 2009 Driver Training Study, between 1990 and 2004
the average age of an officer killed in the line of duty while driving was 37. Similarly, in a 2011 report,
the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
reported that, when broken out by age group, officers 30 to 39 years old accounted for the largest
percentage of law-officer traffic fatalities nationwide. (This finding was based on their analysis of the
FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted data, cross-referenced against their own Fatality
Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database. (source)