A highway patrol is either a police unit created primarily for the purpose of overseeing and enforcing traffic safety compliance on roads and highways, or a detail within an existing local or regional police agency that is primarily concerned with such duties. They are also referred to in many countries as traffic police, although in other countries this term is more commonly used to refer to foot officers on point duty who control traffic at junctions.
Duties of highway patrols or traffic police may include the following:
In Australia, traffic policing is the responsibility of the state police forces. Each force has its own traffic sections, often a local section in each area and a statewide section.
In Brazil, traffic policing is the responsibility of state and federal police forces accordingly to the highway administration status. State administered highways (usually shorter, within state borders, two-way, single lane, lower traffic) are policed by a branch of the Military Police forces, called State Highway Military Police. At the same time Federal highways and roads (longer, crossing state borders, some double lane and high-traffic) are the responsibility of the Federal Highway Police.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial police of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary serves major metropolitan areas., and highway policing is the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Currently, the Alberta Sheriffs Branch Sheriff Highway Patrol unit provides rural traffic enforcement parallel to the RCMP. Historically, several provinces, e.g. New Brunswick, have had their own highway patrols. Quebec also operates the Contrôle routier Québec, who enforce traffic laws in relation heavy vehicles.
In Croatia, traffic police special department is the national motorway patrol, patrols the motorways in Croatia. Missions include the prevention and detection of driving offences. The car fleet is BMW 330d, Mercedes-Benz C 320 CDI, Skoda Superb, VW Passat, VW Tuareg, Audi A4, Honda Accord, Ford Mondeo, Opel Vectra and Porsche Carrera 997.
In France, traffic policing on highways is the responsibility of dedicated units of the Gendarmerie Nationale, the Escadron départementaux de sécurité routière (EDSR) and the CRS autoroutières of the National Police (France).
In Indonesia, traffic policing is the responsibility of the Indonesian National Police's Traffic Corps. The Indonesian National Police Traffic Corps (Korps Lalu Lintas Kepolisian Negara Republik Indonesia abbreviated "Korlantas Polri") oversees several units which regard to traffic policing including the highway patrol unit. It conducts activities such as traffic: law enforcement, management, control, accident handling and prevention, education, escort, and patrol in the roads of the country. The issuing of a driver's license is also conducted by this unit.
The Garda Traffic Corps, a specialised unit of the Garda Síochána (the national police force for the Republic of Ireland) is responsible for patrolling the countries motorways and other national routes. They patrol using motorbikes, off-road/4X4s, and a mixture of marked and unmarked high-powered saloon cars.
In Japan, traffic policing on highways is the responsibility of the Expressway Traffic Police Units (, K?soku-d?ro k?tsu-keisatsu-tai), operational units of Traffic department of each Prefectural police departments.
In Malaysia, traffic policing on highways is the responsibility by Royal Malaysia Police. JPJ also charged with the responsibility of undertaking registration and licensing of drivers and all motor vehicles and trailers in Malaysia.
In the Netherlands, policing on the highways falls under the purview of the Dienst Verkeerspolitie (transportation police), which is one the Landelijke Eenheid (national police services, as opposed to the regional forces). Some regions have their own traffic police organisatie highway patrol, cities as Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam.
In New Zealand the Highway Patrol operates almost exclusively on state highways and is a division of New Zealand Police. Formerly traffic law enforcement was the responsibility of the Traffic Safety Service of the Ministry of Transport. The MOT had no law enforcement authority beyond traffic. The MOT merged with the Police in 1992 and the Highway Patrol was re-established as its own unit in 2001.
In Spain, traffic policing on highways is the responsibility of the Civil Guard, except in the autonomous communities with transferred competences on traffic policing (Catalonia and the Basque Country), where regional police forces (Mossos d'Esquadra and Ertzaintza, respectively) are responsibly for this area. In Navarra, traffic policing is shared between the Guardia Civil and the regional police (Policía Foral de Navarra).
In Sweden, traffic policing is the responsibility of the Swedish Police Authority. All Swedish police officers have the authority to stop drivers but it is only the police officers within the Swedish Traffic Police division who have the authority to clamp vehicles etc.
In Turkey, traffic policing and highway traffic policing are an extra unit at General Directorate of Security. Traffic Police officers in Turkey, controls seat belts, plates, driving licences and alcohols etc. Highway Traffic Police in Turkey works in Highways like the other countries. In Turkey, every police car has a tablet and a GPS device.
Many state police agencies in the United States take the name of "highway patrol" rather than "state police". State police agencies may fulfil the role of highway patrol, and vice versa. For instance, the Arizona Highway Patrol is actually a state police agency, meaning that it is a police body having statewide authority to conduct law enforcement activities and criminal investigations. In addition to its highway patrol duties, it performs functions outside the normal purview of the city police or the county sheriff, such as enforcing traffic laws on state highways and interstate expressways, overseeing the security of the state capitol complex and other state buildings, protecting the governor, providing technological and scientific support services, and helping to coordinate multi-jurisdictional task force activity in serious or complex cases. The California Highway Patrol serves as bailiffs and courtroom deputies for certain state courts, such as the appellate courts and the California Supreme Court building in San Francisco. The state traffic enforcement agency retained the name "California Highway Patrol" after the merger of the smaller California State Police with the larger -- and better-known -- CHP and the combination of their functions into one agency.
Some highway patrol organizations, such as the Florida Highway Patrol and North Carolina State Highway Patrol, are specifically charged with the enforcement of traffic laws, and while able to enforce other laws, they are not an official "state police" agency, yet retain their statewide jurisdiction in the same vein as the California Highway Patrol or the New Jersey State Police. States like Texas have a bona fide and appropriately named state police department such as the Texas Department of Public Safety, of which only one arm is a highway patrol division. In addition, the police departments of Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York have highway patrol units. A privately compiled list of Highway Patrol organizations and similar state police agencies is available on the web. The Iowa State Patrol maintains a list of phone numbers and cell phone dialing codes for non-emergency calls to the dispatchers of the Highway Patrol organizations in all 50 states. These numbers are useful for motorists who want to report aggressive driving, driving under the influence, or other dangerous but not life-threatening situations that do not require a 9-1-1 call.
Highway patrol and state police officers are often referred to as "State Trooper". Historically, a troop was a small cavalry unit. Many state police forces originated as mounted paramilitary forces who were stationed in barracks like soldiers, hence the term "trooper." A state trooper goes by the title "trooper", as in "Trooper John Smith". Some agencies, particularly on the east coast, refer to their state police offices as "barracks," although troopers generally do not reside there. Other state police forces, particularly highway patrols as in California, have always modeled themselves after police officers who simply commute to work like ordinary civilians. Like police officers, they use the title "officer." Other states use the term "Patrolmen" in reference to members of the State Police or Highway Patrol.
Many states and their Departments of Transportation have organized government-run freeway service patrols, Highway Assistance Patrols, or Highway Safety Patrols, to assist with highway emergencies as needed. While not law enforcement personnel, these persons provide free service to motorists in distress, and secure lanes of traffic, provide emergency medical assistance, request tow trucks for vehicles in inconvenient or dangerous locations, remove debris from the roadway after a crash, and resolve minor disabled vehicle problems, such as flat tires, jumpstarts, or pushing a disabled vehicle out of travel lanes. Many of these patrols work directly with the State Police and Highway Operations departments of their state, and respond to assistance when a citizen calls 911 for minor roadside assistance duties.