Iowa Department of Transportation motor vehicle enforcement (MVE) officers use a myriad of tools to complete their job duties. One of those tools is a laptop computer in every Iowa DOT MVE patrol vehicle. While these laptops are invaluable to the officers, they can also provide a dangerous distraction when the officer is driving.
To reduce the risk of this distraction, the Iowa DOT is deploying a new piece of software in its patrol vehicles called “Arch Angel.” This is a combination of hardware and software designated to improve safety of both law enforcement and the motoring public by disabling the laptop computer in the law enforcement vehicle when a predetermined speed is reached.
MVE Chief Dave Lorenzen stated, “Distracted driving can contribute to crashes and other traffic problems, such as sudden stops, departing from your lane, and inconsistent speeds. As a law enforcement agency, it is our duty to not only enforce laws related to those issues and be part of the solution, not part of the problem. The Iowa DOT’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Office is committed to modeling safe driver behavior by using this technology to ensure the officer’s full attention is committed to safely operating the patrol vehicle.”
The Arch Angel software constantly monitors the speed of the law enforcement vehicle. When that speed reaches or exceeds 15 mph, the software automatically disables or locks the laptop computer, key board, mouse, and touch screen. While the computer is locked, critical applications continue to run ensuring that the physical location of the officer continues to be sent to other law enforcement officers so situational awareness is maintained. The officer is able to use one keystroke to call for help if necessary. In addition, the officer can view a statewide map showing the location of the emergency they are responding to and the position of other law enforcement officers in the area. Once the vehicle’s speed falls below 15 mph, the computer becomes active.
The Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement anticipates software installation and training will be completed and the system will be in use by Nov. 1, 2013.
The installation of this equipment is just one more way the Iowa DOT is working to eliminate dangerous driving behaviors and reach the goal of zero fatalities on Iowa’s highways.