We have statutes in many states against distracted driving, including texting while driving, talking on a cell phone, and other technological multi-tasking. So given the prevalence of in-car computers in patrol cars and how they are often used by an officer who is driving, we have to ask if the rules governing distracted driving apply to police officers as well as the public.
Training is often a casualty of budget issues, and driver training usually doesn't rank as high on the priorities list as training in firearms and defensive tactics. But what activity do you engage in most while on duty? Unless you walk a beat, it's most likely driving.
Officers who underestimate a suspect's resolve to evade capture or overestimate their own limitations or those of the patrol car only enhance the dangers of vehicle pursuits. It's not just the lead unit in a pursuit that is imperiled. Upon hearing of a pursuit in progress, other officers may attempt to catch up and join the chase.
Michigan State Police Sgt. Jim Flegel of the Precision Driving Unit explains how troopers evaluate patrol vehicles and explains how to correct for skids created by oversteering or understeering.
Pasadena PD's Officer Eddie Chan, a motorcycle skills champion, participates in the 2010 Pasadena Police Motorcycle Training and Skills Competition. This point-of-view clip was recorded with Digital Ally's wearable/mountable FirstVu video system and camera. Video courtesy of Digital Ally.
The Orange County Traffic Officer's Association drew 500 motor officers to the 2009 edition of its annual police motorcycle skills competition, which nearly doubled in attendance from a year ago. The event included maneuvers such as balancing the bikes, leaning into turns and quick handlebar transitions that are regularly used in real-world patrol situations. Video shot by Kimberly Pham and edited by Kelly Bracken.
Making sure police officers can drive well is not enough. They must also keep their mental skills just as sharp to follow policy under stress and exercise good judgment throughout the pursuit.
An annual California police motorcycle skills competition drew almost 500 officers to a sun-drenched parking lot along the Huntington Beach sand to compete for top-rider honors, train on patterns of neatly arranged orange cones and share a few moments of levity about their specialized patrol work. The Orange County Traffic Officer's Association hosted the annual police motorcycle skills competition, which nearly doubled in attendance from a year ago.
It's unrealistic to believe all deaths and injuries can be prevented from traffic accidents, of course, but striving toward that goal will undoubtedly help reduce such incidents.