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Mobile devices like tablets and e-citation printers can make traffic stops safer by making them more efficient

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Traffic stops can be among the most dangerous parts of an officer’s job. Mobile tools can help make the process safer and more efficient.

Zebra Technologies

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Traffic stops are among the most dangerous parts of an officer’s job. Every second spent dealing with paperwork is another second not paying attention to the traffic whizzing by and a driver who may behave unpredictably. Manually writing a ticket can take up to 15 minutes, which can place an officer at risk of harm when standing on the roadside.

According to the Stanford Open Policing report, there are more than 20 million traffic stops a year. If every one of those traffic stops took 15 minutes, that would total more than 11,000 years of work! When people think about ways in which technology has benefited law enforcement, they usually think about fingerprint databases or DNA matching. However, one of the biggest technological advantages for modern police work is using mobile solutions to improve everyday traffic stops through e-citations.

Law enforcement agencies began to modernize routine traffic stops by replacing paper tickets with e-citations in the early 2000s. A Minnesota statewide e-citation study in 2015 found that nearly eighty-two percent (81.8%) of survey respondents indicated they were interested in moving to e-citations. Now, e-citations are a common sight in many law enforcement agencies.



A Troy, New York police officer uses a tablet to collect driver information during a traffic stop.

Zebra Technologies

This technology doesn’t just save time. Using connected mobile computers during traffic stops can:

  • Improve safety by reducing the amount of time spent issuing a ticket
  • Improve efficiency by transmitting crucial data faster to allow officers to prioritize urgent calls
  • Improve accuracy by eliminating handwritten tickets (which are up to 15X more likely to be dismissed due to illegibility)

The Troy Police Department (a city of approximately 50,000 residents) found that digital forms streamlined tasks and freed officers to be proactive in the community and more responsive to priority calls.


  • Scan driver’s license
  • Automatically populate fields
  • Select violation
  • Print citation
  • Automatically forward citation data to database


Not all mobile devices are created equally. Some departments issue laptops without interviewing their officers to see if another solution might work better. In a 2018 survey of police officers, 24% of officers indicated they are using a laptop only because it was issued by their agency.

Many officers who deliberately chose laptops assumed that the tablets that they would be using on the clock would be the same they use in their personal lives. They mistakenly associated enterprise-grade tablets with the same weaknesses as the consumer grade ones when it came to durability, connectivity and capabilities.


Consumer devices aren’t designed to withstand the rugged environments in the field, including heat inside parked squad cars or the occasional drop onto concrete. Enterprise-grade devices such as Zebra’s rugged 2-in-1 tablets — are not only durable, but also more secure. Their cybersecurity meets the stringent requirements of government organizations such as law enforcement. For added security, Zebra’s solutions can also include asset tracking and passkey options to control access.


A survey conducted in 2018 asked public safety officers why they preferred tablets to laptops. Fifty five percent said simply that tablets are mobile computers that are actually mobile, meaning they can stay with the officer at all times. Other officers said tablets “take up less room in the car than a laptop when they are mounted” which improves their field of view.

Sergeant Carello of the Troy, NY Police Department discusses the benefits of his department’s deployment of Zebra tablets.

Troy, NY, had mobile data terminals in its police cars since the 1980s, but they found that these devices took up a lot of space, lacked portability and were underutilized due to a lack of support budget. They decided to arm their officers with lightweight Zebra rugged tablets, purpose built for public safety professionals. The department wanted to give both patrol officers and detectives a mobile computer that could be taken out into the field and used to quickly issue tickets and complete reports in the field, in real time.

Sergeant Carello, 40-year veteran of the Troy Police Force, found that switching to Zebra tablets made policework easier for veterans and rookies alike.

“Police work has gotten more and more complicated. You’ve got to have so many things that you have to understand. If you can eliminate one of those to make things easier, that’s better for police work.” - Sergeant Carello, Troy (NY) Police Force

Zebra has solutions built specifically for law enforcement officers beyond creating rugged tablets and other mobile computers to make e-citations easier. Zebra is proud to make life safer and easier for those who protect the public.