FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Vehicles

Driving In Nasty Weather

These tips will help you remain safe, when the driving conditions turn sour.

December 29, 2010  |  by - Also by this author


Image via Flickr (contrasto_gp).

A powerful East Coast blizzard closed major airports and transit lines, after Christmas Day, and brought police first responders out to help.

New Jersey State Police troopers brought water and food to diabetics marooned on two passenger buses on the Garden State Parkway in Monmouth County. And a robbery at a Kohl's jewelry counter turned deadly, when fleeing suspects fatally shot Woburn PD's Officer John Maguire after almost 18 inches of snow had fallen.

Weather is a hazard that must be managed by law enforcement officers, especially when driving patrol vehicles. With that in mind, we turned to Lt. Keith Wilson, who oversees the Michigan State Police's Precision Driving Unit. We asked Lt. Wilson for a few suggestions, so officer safety will be top of mind when operating your vehicle in nasty weather. Read his six points of guidance:

Slow down and plan ahead: How much an officer should slow down depends on the vehicle, the road conditions, the driver's abilities and experience. Slowing down allows officers to better analyze the situation and answer questions such as, "Can my vehicle stop at any point in time if it needs to avoid something ahead?" Also, "Can I make the turn I need to make?"

Inspect/test your vehicle: Lt. Wilson advises that officers make sure their cruiser's tires are properly inflated. Make sure exterior lights are clean and visible to oncoming and following traffic. Make sure wipers are in good shape and you have adequate fluid for keeping the windshield clear. Brush snow off the windows. And make sure your brakes are working properly.

Think twice before initiating pursuits: Pursuits are inherently risky situations. Inclement weather raises the level of risk to officers and the public. Pursuing a fleeing vehicle when the weather and road conditions are poor is usually not a good idea. However, the officer will have to make the final decision based on the circumstances at hand.

Avoid skid-control driving: If an officer finds him or herself in a skid after sliding on a piece of icy roadway, they need to use fast hand-over-hand steering inputs to steer the car in the direction they want to go. However, the best method of skid control is driving to avoid situations such as this.

Don't pump your brakes: You should know your car. If you have anti-lock brakes, you should not pump your brakes. You should hold your pedal to the floor until your vehicle stops. If you do not have anti-lock brakes, you should gently pump or modulate your brakes to slow your vehicle to a stop.

If stuck in a snow bank, call for reinforcements: Have the patrol car towed from the snow bank by a professional. This will prevent damage to the drive train and reduce the chance of injury to the officer.

Tags: Officer Safety, How-To Guides, Michigan State Police, Snow Patrol


Be the first to comment on this story





POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Police Rifles: Why We Carry What We Do
Chief Michael C. Koval of the Madison (Wis.) Police Department recently wrote a post on...
Law Enforcement's—and Society's—Only Hope
Today, for the most part, the best and the brightest in law enforcement still run directly...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine