Posted by: safedriver | October 10, 2011

Police officers are re-learning how to drive safely

I’ll often write down things to help me remember what to do during the day. You know; just like a to-do list. We often forget things over time and need reminders to help us stay on track. Are you like that? What happens if you forget to do some things you know you were supposed to do? Is there a chance you can forget to do important things while driving? You can’t really write them down to help you remember to do them, so what can you do?

I was impressed to hear how a couple of major police departments were having their officers go through driver training. Some people feel that driver training is only good for new drivers. Not true. We build habits over time, with some being good habits and some not so good.

I think the important thing here is that the powers that be within these forces decided it was a good idea and they make the tough choices for the officers that can be seen as negative. As a driving instructor for Young Drivers of Canada, I think it’s a great step in the proper direction, however, in-car training needs to accompany the online training. It helps solidify what their brain has absorbed from a computer or simulator. Online training isn’t enough to change actual driving errors. I’ve trained hundreds of licensed drivers over the years to help them stay on top of their driving skills. Most of those drivers were sent to me from their corporations, not just the average driver out there looking to improve a weakness with their driving. Some of those drivers felt they couldn’t learn anything new, but once we finished the training, they felt the re-training was very beneficial to their long term goal of collision free driving.

When I heard about this story and started to read the article from the newspaper (http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/605338–opp-officers-take-driver-s-ed-to-cut-cruiser-collisions) I thought it may have something to do with high speed chases, but it didn’t. These crashes quite often occurred from the officer backing out of a parking space, making improper turns, following too closely and too fast for conditions. These are simple crashes that didn’t need to happen. None of the crashes were for going through the intersection with emergency lights flashing. Simply enough, these crashes were completely avoidable.

Good driving skills can be taught, but staying out of crashes take good use of cognitive skills. It’s not all about good memory of what you were originally taught, but how you use those skills in today’s traffic patterns, how you think behind the wheel and what rules you’ve put in place as a driver. It’s pretty obvious that police officers are thinking about the call they are rushing off to investigate, but until they get there, driving is their first priority.

The same can be said about a sales person, service technician, school bus driver, etc. Their first priority is driving until they reach their destination. Driver distraction is huge in today’s society, so it’s important to set up rules to avoid being distracted. Having a refresher of driving skills is also important to ANY driver, not just for professional drivers.

My advice to ALL drivers out there; take a refresher course for driver training. Take a program that offers cognitive training. We offer cognitive training at Young Drivers of Canada for all drivers; fully licensed to beginner. You may learn a thing or two about your own cognitive abilities. Some abilities, or lack of abilities, may even surprise you. The only way to fix these errors is with proper retraining; just like the police department is doing.

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