A traffic cop 's job is to enforce traffic laws and investigate collisions. That doesn't mean that they can't do other things, but generally that's what they stick to.
They will spend the day going to areas that are known to be problematic and watch for violations. They don't always get the recognition that they deserve, especially when you consider that their job is to try and change driver behavior in problem areas.
They watch areas and issue tickets, and if they are successful in preventing further violations, they may move on to the next area.
They also investigate major accidents involving vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
These guys see some major carnage on the roads, believe me. They have to photograph the collision scene, take measuresments of the vehicles, tire/skid marks on the pavement, debris on the roads and do the necessary paperwork, deal with witnesses, family, medics and fire who arrive etc...
However, they also make a fair amount of money. Because they write many traffic tickets, they end up getting lots of court time and getting paid for it.
Now...traffic guys sometimes take some heat. They take it for a few reasons, and not just from the public.
Obviously, the public want safer streets and less accidents. They don't want to see people get hurt, and don't want accidents to delay them from getting to work or getting home after work. Especially during rush hour when traffic slows to begin with.
People are always in a foul mood when traffic is slow, but when it comes to a standstill, people FREAK.
Traffic cops try to curb driving behavior by watching trouble spots and giving out tickets. That's pretty much the only time that drivers smarten up- when they know that there are officers always watching specific areas.
But, people get upset when they get caught and get a ticket. They never blame themselves- it's always the officer's fault according to them. So yes, traffic guys take heat cause they're only seen as being out to "jam the public".