Police driver training: The roadcraft system
Part 2 of 2
The previous article, Police Driver Training: The UK Way, discussed the history of driver training in the United Kingdom and mentioned the success of the Roadcraft System. This article will go in depth of that system and will go into details of the United Kingdom's approach to law enforcement driver training. The Roadcraft System has been in place for 70 years and it only makes sense to analyze that system in an effort to improve the focus in America.
The United Kingdom has three levels of driver training for their officers. The Standard A training is a course designed to teach new recruits the basic driving skills required to operate a standard police vehicle. This training typically last three weeks. The Standard B training is an intermediate course and is designed to bring an officer's driving standards to a much higher level. This three-week course is considered one of the most extensive in the World but still does not qualify the officer to drive in emergency situations or pursuits. The Police Advanced Driving Course is an additional three weeks where officers undergo some of the most intense training in the World. This training typically deals with speeds in excess of 130 MPH on undivided highways. This training is typically only available to traffic patrol officers and is considered the pinnacle of British police driving. According to Eddie Wren, the founder and executive director of Drive and Stay Alive and former British traffic patrol officer, "to my knowledge, this training has no equal in the World."
The method of training in the U.K. is indeed vastly different than the United States. The duration of training and the fact that the majority of training is conducted on public roads with civilian traffic is definitely away from the norm in the U.S. Training on public roads may seem unthinkable and bizarre but the fact that the British Government still allows this is a testament that it has proven successful and can be conducted safely. According to Wren "there is an extreme emphasis on safety among ordinary traffic along with all of the hazards present such as pedestrians, bicycles and animals. What better place to get this training than in a real situation."
Several years ago the Tulsa Police Department began reality based training on a track by placing instructors on the course acting as civilian drivers. Tulsa Police Instructor John Hoehner remembers the concerns that bold change brought. "I vividly remember the concern from not only the administration but some of the other instructors. No one had ever heard of doing that and there was certainly apprehension. With that said, it has been one of the best decisions made and I applaud our administration for approving the change in training." While many U.S. training facilities move towards reality based training, The United Kingdom has no doubt pioneered the concept with driver training on the public roads. Eddie Wren believes that "the ever present threat of litigation undoubtedly prevents the possibility of officers getting true traffic safety training" and that as long as a closed course is utilized, the real dangers of driving can never be realized by officers.
The training curriculum used by the U.K. is documented well in Roadcraft: The Police Driver's Handbook. It is required reading for any U.K. officer about to train in Roadcraft. Several key concepts are known to United States Driving Instructors including discussions on mental alertness, attitude, fatigue, and scanning ahead. The uniqueness of the method is the system of car control that is utilized.
The Information Phase is considered the most important and deals with receiving information and thus acting accordingly. Topics included in the information phase include planning, scanning, weather conditions, road surface, night driving and road knowledge. Through this information or observation phase, officers are taught to incorporate proper positioning for maximum visibility on the road, proper speed for the conditions encountered while using the appropriate gear and acceleration.
While Roadcraft: The Police Driver's Handbook is not available in the United States, there have been recent efforts to publish a form of the book in the U.S. Police Departments and companies are also taking notice. Training in Roadcraft has become available in the United States and after 70 years of success, there seems to not be much more for this system of advanced driving to prove.
Advanced Drivers of America Roadcraft Courses: http://www.driveandstayalive.com/z-ada/ada-courses.htm
U.K. Advanced Driving Forum: http://www.traffic-answers.com/forum/