Driver course helps officers stay safe

Driver course helps officers stay safe
A runway of Harold Davidson Field in Vermillion proved to be the perfect spot for local law enforcement to undergo their annual driving safety training.

The runway was needed because the cars were approaching take-off speed. The driving skills, in fact, honed during the testing procedures were done at a maximum of 35 or 45 miles per hour.

The runway, however, offered plenty of pavement, with no traffic or pedestrians in harm's way.


The only thing in danger were the bright orange cones on the pavement that served as obstacles, creating an imaginary scenario in which an officer would need to swerve from one lane to another.

It sounds easy. But even at 25 miles per hour, when a police cruiser makes that sort of a sudden movement, you can expect to be slammed against the door of the car.

"This particular test that we're doing," Captain Chad Passick of the Vermillion Police Department said on a warm August afternoon, "is where we run the course at 25, 35, and then 45 miles per hour."

It also is a test of the officer's ability to react quickly and use proper steering techniques. Even at only 25 miles per hour, the cones are at risk of being run over.

It isn't until the last second, when the officer gets a signal telling him or her to turn into a left or right lane, that the driver can react.

Officers must also master other driving skills, such as quickly negotiating their patrol cars through the snaking course in reverse.

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