POLICE Magazine

NOV 2018

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12 POLICE NOVEMBER 2018 In addition, working officers often return to the academy for in-service emergency vehicle operations courses (EVOC), which includes instruction in what to do when driving during dangerous weather con- ditions. "We encourage commanders to rotate their people through," says Lt. Mi- chael McCarthy, MSP's precision driving unit commander. LOSING TRACTION Ice and snow, especially black ice, are some of the most dangerous road condi- tions faced by MSP officers. McCarthy sums up the primary hazard presented by the state's slick roads when he says, "e problem is that you tend to break traction and become involved in a skid." MSP makes sure its officers know how to survive when their vehicle's tires break traction. e academy has a full-size skid pad, and each recruit gets 1.2 hours of training on it. In order to pass, they have to recover from three out of four skids. McCarthy, a 24-year veteran of the MSP, says people tend to complicate the skid re- covery process. e most important thing is not to accelerate or brake. en you have to bring the vehicle back under your control. "You hear about counter steering, you hear about steering into the skid, but we teach a little bit differently," McCarthy says. "We tell our students to look where the car wants to go and steer to that spot. It's basically the same thing as steer into the skid but a lot of people don't realize what steer into the skid means." Your car goes where you look applies to all driving, according to McCarthy. "Even in a simple exercise like the serpentine maneuver, if you look at the cones instead of the space between them, you will hit them," he explains. THE 80% RULE The skid pad teaches MSP officers what to do if they get in trouble, but the most important lesson they learn is how not to get in trouble. ey are taught to never ex- ceed 80% of their skill level and the vehi- cle's capability even in emergency driving conditions, answering shots fired calls, responding to officer needs help calls, or pursuing suspects. "You always need to have a little bit of your skill and the ve- hicle's capability to recover if anything How To happens," McCarthy says, adding that regardless of the type of call, "You have to get there safely before you can do anyone any good." Speed is the primary reason law en- forcement officers exceed 80% of their driving skills. McCarthy says it's particu- larly important that officers understand the difference between their patrol SUVs and smaller vehicles. "e faster you go with a heavier vehicle, the more inertia it has and the less it wants to do anything other than go straight. e faster a vehicle goes the harder it is to turn or brake," he explains, adding that slick roads from ice, snow, or rain means you have to slow down to safely operate your vehicle in the 80% parameter. at 80% rule is based on good weather conditions. When the weather turns nasty and road conditions deteriorate, so do both the skill level of the driver and the capabilities of the vehicle. McCarthy uses this example to ex- plain how the driver's skills can even go to 0%. If a driver can't see from rain, fog, or a whiteout blizzard, even if that driver is highly trained and highly skilled, then any movement exceeds 80%, he says. "What you should do when the weather turns so bad that you can't see is turn your hazards on, work your way to the shoul- der, come to a stop, and remain stopped until conditions improve." FLASH FLOODING One of the least understood dangerous road conditions that imperils both first responders and civilian drivers is the flooded roadway. A good rule of thumb for you to remember is that if you can't see the curbs, the water is too deep. A fast cur- rent of less than a foot is enough to wash most passenger cars off the road and car- ry them away. An SUV is higher and can probably run through up to two feet of wa- ter, but don't bet your life on it. In 2018 alone, two officers were killed when their vehicles were washed off the Driving into Water It is extremely dangerous to drive into a flooded area of a roadway. So you should never do it. But if you find your- self in a stalled vehicle that is about to be washed off the road, experts say your best bet is to get out and get to high ground. Do this as soon as pos- sible. If the water gets too high and too strong, you may not be able to do so. If your vehicle crashes into water and starts to sink, don't panic. • Roll down the window and open the door and escape, if possible. Try to do this before the vehicle sinks. If the vehicle does sink: • Break the window with your glass breaker. (If you don't have one, get one or better yet two.) • Let the vehicle flood with water to equalize the pressure. Then open the door. • Leave the car • Swim to safety Optional in-service training offered to Michigan State Police officers teaches them how to escape from submerged vehicles. PHOTOS: MICHIGAN STATE POLICE

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