Understanding the Nature of Vehicle Pursuits

Principal Investigator(s):

Nichole Morris, HumanFIRST Lab Director, Mechanical Engineering


Project summary:

Vehicle pursuits are an extremely dangerous activity due to the unpredictable driving behaviors of the fleeing suspect. Vehicle pursuits have resulted in injuries and fatalities not only among the pursuing officer and the violator but have inadvertently impacted uninvolved bystanders. The issue of vehicle pursuits is of particular concern to the Department of Public Safety, as Minnesota experienced a 178 percent increase in the number of reported police pursuits from 2010 to 2018. Over this period, pursuit activities resulted in 50 fatalities, 1,545 documented injuries, and 4,110 cases of property damage. The objective of this study is to understand why pursuits increased considerably in Minnesota. We propose a mixed-method study design that will analyze pursuit reports from 2004-2018 to characterize the violators' characteristics, pursuit conditions, and identify possible risk factors for vehicle pursuits. Furthermore, this study will also interview violators who fled law enforcement to gain insight into the decision process of why they committed to flee. The anticipated results will offer critical information to help reduce the number of pursuits in Minnesota by uncovering the decision process for fleeing law enforcement and inform the State Patrol of the associated risk factors resulting in a vehicle pursuit.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2020051
  • Start date: 06/2020
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow