While members of the public may think of a radio or firearms as a police officer’s most used piece of equipment, the patrol car is an officer’s mobile office, means of transportation of apprehended persons, and an instantly recognized symbol of law enforcement.
Knowing how to drive a patrol vehicle safely and efficiently allows officers to work effectively to keep the public safe.
LEDT or Law Enforcement Driver Training is a specialized course that police officers and other members of law enforcement must pass to drive defensively.
The training course used by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in Burns Flat is ranked in the top tier of defensive driving training courses in the country, attracting students from around the country and around the world.
In LEDT drivers learn how to use momentum and inertia to his or her advantage and how to operate a vehicle under all types of road-surface conditions that include the presence of water, gravel, sand and dirt.
While in training, officers also learn the importance of vehicle inspection.
It is each officer’s duty to maintain his or her patrol vehicle to ensure that is kept in peak working condition and ready to move at a moment’s notice. Drivers are responsible to check all belts, fluids, and hoses, to make sure all equipment inside the vehicle is secured, and to maintain maximum tire pressure.
Defensive driving training ensures that officers know how to handle road conditions in high-pressure situations. Police officers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a collision than the average citizen simply because an officer spends more time on the road and is involved in more intense driving situations.
While traffic laws apply for members of law enforcement just as they do for members of the public, police officers are given allowances for emergency situations. When pulling over a speeding driver, officers can exceed the speed limit to make a traffic stop. When responding to a call for a potentially life-threatening situation, officers can make calculated adjustments to respond in a timely manner.
No officer could make such an informed decision in a high-pressure situation without first becoming confident behind the wheel. That confidence comes when the officer has worked to improve his or her proactive driving skills. These skills reduce the stress of the officer, create emotional control and discipline, and help avoid collisions.
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.