The importance of 'blue shirts' in traffic policing

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Policing (Oxford): a journal of policy and practice


Oxford Academic


School of Arts and Humanities / Sellenger Centre




Tudor-Owen, J. (2019). The importance of ‘Blue Shirts’ in traffic policing. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, Article no. paz012.


The requirement for transparency and accountability for public spending has seen a focus on quantitative cost–benefit analyses. In the context of traffic policing, the temptation is to emphasize the importance of automated systems of enforcement as these pose an arguably less expensive alternative to using uniformed police. In the context of speed enforcement, automated means of enforcement are a logical way to efficiently distribute resources. However, in other areas of traffic policing, like driver distraction, seatbelt use, random breath testing, the use of uniformed police is essential. Following an overview of empirical research examining traffic enforcement, this article explores theoretical explanations for compliance with the law, focusing on research that has examined the importance of procedural justice. It is suggested that an approach embracing both automated means of enforcement coupled with visible police presence is essential to encourage perceptions of procedural justice and police legitimacy. Further empirical research is needed to model the ideal allocation of funding across automated and non-automatic law enforcement in traffic to maximize public compliance with the law and ultimately reduce crashes.



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