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September 17, 2007
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Travis Yates Police Driving:
Safety Behind the Wheel

with Travis Yates

Driving in Ohio: It's worth the ride

Shuffle steering, straight-line braking and apexes top the curriculum in Ohio

In an ideal world, law enforcement agencies would take driver training seriously. Administrators would not balk at sending officers to training; they would not hesitate to spend money on training.


The Tactical Driving lectures did not disappoint.

An ideal world may well be happening in the state of Ohio. I recently attended a five-day emergency driving course at the Ohio Peace Officers Academy located in London, Ohio. 

I was there on the invitation of training Officer Jeff Eggleston. Eggleston, a veteran law enforcement officer who served in the Marine Corps, coordinates Ohio’s Law Enforcement Driver Training program.

Jeff has built a program that is not only serving Ohio but is increasingly serving officers from across the United States and other countries. 

The course I attended was called Tactical Driving, designed for more advanced students and taught by a combination of veteran officers and instructors. An often-ignored section of driving classes is the classroom portion. Driving instructors don’t always place the appropriate emphasis on the lecture portion of a class, but this one did not disappoint. The first 12 hours in the classroom was a combination of refresher information and new concepts. Regardless of background, students surely benefited from the lecture portion of the course.


An ariel view of the tactical driving track at Ohio’s Law Enforcement Driver Training program.
The remainder was spent on the track, and it was a driving facility to be envied. Built in 2003 in a partnership with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio State Police, the 1.8 mile track contains an opportunity to train officers on a two-lane road, highway, interstate ramp or off road. 

Not every state’s curriculum is created equal, but Ohio is doing it right. Concepts such as shuffle steering, straight-line braking and apexes were prominent in the instruction, and much of the curriculum coincided with the IADLEST manual, which was designed to guide states in the best practices when it comes to emergency vehicle training.

More than 20 basic maneuvers were introduced to the students, and additional courses were included such as an apex course, cumulative skills course, emergency response course and a night pursuit course. In addition to utilizing driving simulators, the course incorporated important information on high-risk car stops and the use of force.

While I was impressed by the school and facilities, I was more impressed by the progress Ohio has made in just a four-year span. Ohio’s driving program has not always been the quality that it is today. While police driving has proven to be a dangerous foe within law enforcement, the training that accompanies it is still in its infancy compared with other training modalities. 

Like many other states, Ohio has played catch-up, but after my observations, Ohio has not only caught up but has proven to be a leading force in combating the dangers of law enforcement driving operations across the United States. How does a state or agency ensure that its officers are provided a safe environment when they are driving their patrol vehicles? It’s simple, follow the Ohio way.

How has Ohio thrived in emergency vehicle training when so many other states are catching up?  Ohio is fortunate to have four key elements that are needed to succeed:

Resources

There is no question that successful programs have the resources they need. Those resources include the facilities and equipment that can train officers in a variety of settings.

Support

Along with resources, successful programs must have support. That support starts from the top and moves down. I’ve heard a ton of stories of great facilities or new simulators that set idle because the bosses don’t support the training.

Instructors

The importance of great instructors cannot be emphasized enough.  Instructors are the heart of any training program, and that is especially true with driving. Nothing matters if a program doesn’t have the instructors to carry out the proper training. It was apparent that Ohio understands and follows this principle without compromise. 

Passion

I have never seen a great training program that doesn’t have involved individuals with a tremendous amount of passion. That is true in Ohio and should be the ultimate goal for any training program.

It is not just the training program that Ohio should be proud of — officers from throughout the state are lining up for training. Most of them have complete support from their agencies, and many agencies have committed to sending every officer to driver training. Compared with similar programs, the cost is a bargain, but for agencies, money is often hard to come by. There definitely seems to be a commitment from Ohio’s law enforcement leaders to give its officers the necessary training to make their jobs safer. Quite frankly, this attitude was refreshing and impressive.

The dangers for officers when they are in their vehicles have been well documented. The tide is changing across the country when it comes to the importance of driver training for law enforcement. That tide is riding high in the Buckeye State.

Additional information on the Ohio Peace Officer Academy:

Tactical Driving is just one of many courses offered to peace officers at the Ohio Peace Officer Academy. Various courses ranging from instructor courses, dignitary protection and tactical vehicle intervention are offered throughout the year. Any certified officer can enroll in these courses. The 2008 schedule is due out in September and can be found at:  www.policedriving.com/training.htm

The Ohio driving facility will be featured on the National Geographic channel later this year.

Watch Video: Ohio Track

About the author

Captain Travis Yates commands the Precision Driver Training Unit with the Tulsa, Okla. Police Department. He is a nationally recognized driving instructor and a certified instructor in tire deflation devices and the pursuit intervention technique. Capt. Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern State University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the owner of www.policedriving.com, a website dedicated to law enforcement driving issues and the Director of Ten-Four Ministries, dedicated to providing practical and spiritual support to the law enforcement community. You may contact Travis at Policedriving@yahoo.com.





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