Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pushing it to the limit … the car that is!

When the call comes from dispatch and an officer needs to get to the scene quickly, hopefully this will not happen …

And that is exactly why the members of the 142nd Central Texas Police Academy were put through rigorous driving training (see video below) during the eighth week of the 17-week class.

Texas A&M’s Riverside Campus is located on the site of what used to be the Bryan Air Force Base. Tons of concrete from the old runways provided the ideal spot to learn to drive fast, brake hard – and most importantly – do it all safely.

Face it, at some point in a law enforcement officer’s career – probably more often than you’d think – he or she will have to respond to an emergency call or be in a pursuit situation.

The TEEX emergency vehicle driving track helps students to safely respond to incidents by giving them hands-on practice that builds confidence in their equipment and individual performance in emergency driving situations.

Specifically, there are six driving maneuvers – or driving courses – the students must master before the week is over.

All the courses help develop hand-eye coordination and help the student develop a “feel” for the vehicle’s dynamics and control. Additionally, each course helps develop a unique skill set.

It’s not easy! If there were no time constraints placed on finishing the courses, the “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” could get through all the courses with no problems. But there are time constraints, and in some cases speed minimums as well.

For instance, let’s take a look at the Serpentine course. There are five cones placed in a straight line. Each cone is 60 feet apart. The driver has to enter the obstacle at 35 mph and exit through a 12-foot gate at the end of the obstacle going at least 35 mph. (In the video above, from 0:23 to 0:45 is footage of the Serpentine course)

That’s not hard enough for you? The Precision Maneuvering course is a combination of three separate courses that test all of a cadet’s driving skills in a confined area: sharp turning, backing, acceleration, controlled braking … you get the idea. The students have three minutes to finish the series of courses and can only hit six cones. (In the video above, from 0:45 to the end is footage of the Precision Maneuvering course)

Do not try any of this at home.

If you do, in about nine weeks one of these cadets may be issuing you a citation!

No comments: