IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Driving in Work Situations Among Working Police Officers and Police Recruits


Driving is a major part of police work. Whether patrolling or responding to emergency calls, police officers at the wheel are constantly seeking information that will enable them to ensure their own safety, as well as that of the people they serve. Studies on traffic accidents at work have shown that police officers can be involved in crashes, too, and that such crashes, when they do occur, are potentially fatal. The goals of this study were to (1) document perceptions and attitudes toward driving on the basis of membership in a group of drivers: police recruits, working police officers, and the general public; and (2) compare these same perceptions and attitudes toward driving on the basis of driving experience (less experienced drivers—recruits, police officers with up to five years’ experience and drivers under age 36 from the general public—versus more experienced ones—police officers with over five years’ experience and drivers aged 36 or over from the general public) and on the basis of sex (female versus male).

The police recruits (n = 116) and the working police officers (n = 624) filled in a questionnaire on various aspects of driving. In addition, a sample of drivers from the general public (n = 400) was surveyed for comparison purposes.

For certain aspects of driving, police recruits and working police officers show perceptions, attitudes and behaviours that are different from those of the general driving public. It was also found that, by some measures, women display safer behaviours and attitudes than men, among both police officers and the general public. Depending on the situation they find themselves in, police officers adapt their behaviour to ensure their own safety (e.g., with regard to wearing seat belts, self-reported behaviours and comments about patrolling differed from those about emergency driving). Last, different themes were identified in the comments made regarding the impacts of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Among these themes, support from colleagues and repercussions on health and work were specific to the police groups.

This study has given us a better understanding of perceptions and attitudes toward driving among working police officers, as well as allowing a comparison with police recruits and the general driving public, and helped us identify the differences between these groups. The knowledge gained from the study will provide a firmer footing for developing awareness and training programs on emergency and safe driving practices for police officers and recruits.

Additional Information

Category: Research Report
  • Martin Lavallière
  • François Bellavance
Research Project: 2014-0070
Online since: March 11, 2020
Format: Text