A Day of Driver Training at the New York State Police Driving Academy

Fellowship is a very appropriate word for the friendship and allegiance between serving and retired police officers, in most parts of the world.

Since I officially moved to the USA, just over 15 years ago, I have had the great good fortune to acquire some excellent friends in American law enforcement.

Some years ago, through one by the name of Steve Kring, I spent a wonderful day on the police shooting range, in Boston, MA, where those who did not previously know it were taken aback to learn that the vast majority of British police officers at that time, like myself, were never armed at all, and that before that particular day I had never even held a handgun in my life.  Such are the differences (and each approach was, of course, correct for its own country).

Signs for the New York State Police Driver Training Academy
New York State Police Driver Training Academy.  (Copyright image.)

Another massive difference in the job between the two countries lies in the type and duration of police driver training, the latter part of which — specifically defensive and advanced driver training for corporations — is now my professional field.  So it was with great delight that I accompanied my good friend, retired T/Sergeant and EVOC instructor Tom Winterstein, to spend an October day at the New York State Police driver training facility, located on a former airfield.

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Jerry Darby, T/Sgt. & Division Safety Officer Matt Daley, Eddie Wren [ADoNA] and Tom Winterstein.  (Copyright image)
With Tom and I that day were retired Captain and former Division Safety Officer Jerry Darby, who originally introduced the current Emergency Vehicle Operators’ Course standards to the New York State Police, and Michael Flynn, retired BCI Investigator and former EVOC Instructor.

The chief instructor was Matt Daley who was an excellent host and was kind enough to take me on two demonstration laps of the full course — dramatic stuff.  When we got back to my companions, they were quick to ask whether he’d managed to scare me but his answer was ‘no’ and that I’d been too busy videoing the drive.  Apparently, the honour of my own UK police driver training had been upheld! 🙂

Photograph of the next car in line for the slalom part of the training course at New York State Police Driver Training Academy.
Waiting for the off!  The next car in line for the slalom part of the training course. New York State Police Driver Training Academy.  (Copyright image.)

New York State Police are at the top end of driver training for law enforcement officers in the USA, with each officer getting up to two weeks of training.

A New York State Police SUV ready to commence the slalom traing run after the one in the distance has cleared the course.
Ready to commence the run in an SUV after the one in the distance has cleared the course. New York State Police Driving Academy.  (Copyright image.)

For NYSP cadets, the driver training involves learning the various sections of the course and then putting it all together into a fast and accurate drive which is against the clock.

A New York State Police SUV on the slalom section of their training course.
A New York State Police SUV on the slalom section of the course at their driver training academy. (Copyright image.)

A saddening part of the day occurred during of our visit to the building used for all indoor aspects of the courses.  On one wall were the photographs of seventeen NYSP troopers who had been killed while driving on duty since the year 2000.

As a surprise “gift” from Tom on a previous occasion, I have also been lucky enough to get a full tour of the main NYSP training academy in Albany, NY, and I have therefore seen the overall hall of honor, where photographs of all troopers killed on duty since the formation of the NYSP are displayed.  Both were very sobering experiences.

As for the actual driver training, the big difference — apart from duration — between police training in the USA compared to my native Britain is that for whatever political reason, none of it can take place on public roads here in America.  That’s a great pity because it dramatically limits what can be taught in relation to maximizing safety, but that aside, what I experienced with the NYSP was extremely professional, the camaraderie was superb, and the whole thing made for an immensely enjoyable day.

My sincere thanks to everyone concerned.

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Street Design Changes in New York City are Saving Lives But Can More be Done?

A selected, urban component of the Vision Zero approach to highway safety is undoubtedly helping to save lives in New York City.

Aerial view of city crossroads and crosswalks.
City streets are the equal most-dangerous location for road users in the USA, but a carefully-planned Vision Zero approach to street layout and design — not shown in this photo — can do a great deal to reduce casualties. (Copyright image, 2012.)

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International Road Safety Annual Report 2018 – The USA Does Very Badly Again

In the latest edition of what is undoubtedly the most comprehensive international summary of global road safety each year, the mission statement for the USA is:  ‘Dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle safety and reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes.’  However, as the following figures and references will show, this stated goal may be true regarding the intent but actual U.S. outcomes over recent decades have been a very long way indeed from any “highest standards of excellence.”

Photograph of the scene of a fatal road crash in the USA.
A fatal road traffic crash (not “accident”) which I encountered by chance during my frequent travel to conduct safe / defensive / advanced driving courses throughout the USA. (Copyright image, 2012.)

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Work-Related Defensive and Advanced Driving Courses in Cities in the USA and Canada

Most of our requests for the provision of safety training for drivers, whether at defensive or advanced driving levels, relate to city locations throughout the USA and Canada.  This short article is intended to provide some guidance for our corporate clients on how to get the best return from your investment in connection with city-based courses.

Photograph of relatively light traffic on a major road in Seattle, WA.
Relatively light traffic — in this case in Seattle — is naturally easier to deal with for drivers, but average speeds can be higher in these conditions so potential dangers can be a bit different, too. Uniquely,  at ADoNA,  we teach a fully time- and research-proven *system* of driving which allows the widest-possible range of dangers to be safely negotiated,  not just five or six of them.  (Copyright image, 2014.)

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Additional Photos, Bronze Advanced Driving Course, MA, USA

This page is a continuation of the images from Good Observations for Safe Driving (with Photographs)

There’s clearly a constant need to be ready for the actions of a reckless or thoughtless driver making an incursion onto the wrong side of the road.   Copyright image.
The situation from the photograph above this one, can swiftly develop into a potentially dangerous scenario.   Copyright image.
When sightlines are restricted, extra care is needed in looking for Vulnerable Road Users [VRU] such as cyclists or pedestrians who can easily be obscured by vehicles, structures or even other, nearby pedestrians who are standing in a line-of-sight.   Copyright image.
This bicyclist is sensible enough to be wearing suitable, bright clothing and a helmet but could still easily be obscured from view at a critical moment, behind a vehicle.   Copyright image.
Jay-walkers don’t make life any easier, either!   Copyright image.
And speaking of large vehicles (two photographs up), when buying a new vehicle please do have a think about how “friendly” it would be to any Vulnerable Road Users [VRU] who might be hit by it. Vehicles that are built like battering rams are very “unfriendly” towards VRUs. It is, however, now possible to find vehicles that take this aspect of other people’s vulnerability into account in their design. Copyright image.
Something that still worries many American drivers — because, to put it simply, the official advice they’ve been given so far is terrible, to say the least — roundabouts remain an issue. However, on ADoNA courses your people will be taught global best-practise techniques that have been developed over almost 60 years, to give greater safety and confidence.   Copyright image.
And, as always, we teach the most reliable observations and systematic approach for all situations, whether routine or less usual, such as the imminent intersection depicted by this sign (and, of course, driving straight through it without taking any safety precautions might be the common failure of many drivers but is emphatically not the safest option).   Copyright image.

If you have any questions or wish to book safe driver training for your team, please contact us via our Courses page.

Good Observations for Safe Driving (with Photographs)

The photographs in this article were taken around a Bronze Advanced Driving course, with Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA], in south east Massachusetts.   They each show typical driving scenes but give only a very small insight into the discussions about the standards of the observations that are essential to effective driver training and to all safe driving.

Photograph taken from a vehicle driving through a small Massacusetts town, showing various potentially hazardous scenarios.
A typical driving scenario in beautiful, small-town America, showing many potential hazards that most drivers sadly get away with ignoring, but each of which, when ignored, can at the very least result in damaged vehicles or something much worse.   Copyright image.

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Do You REALLY Want to Pass the Snow Plow?

It is easy to identify a person driving safely from someone who is a bad driver by their attitude about whether to pass a snow plough on winter roads.

View of traffic at sunset on Interstate I-87 in New York State.
Traffic on a wintery I-87, with the Catskill Mountains in the background.   Copyright image.

Is that whiteness you can see on the road just a sprinkling of light snow or could there be ice in among it.
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Defensive Driving Course for Chauffeurs in Las Vegas

Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] safe driving courses for chauffeurs are designed not only to maximize the safety of these specialist drivers, for the obvious benefit of  their employers or clients, but also to significantly enhance smoothness and finesse (to an extent that always surprises and delights the chauffeurs concerned).

Photograph of traffic on Interstate 515 near Las Vegas.
There is much that can inevitably be taught about the safest, smoothest driving on busy highways. (Copyright image.)

At ADoNA, we work with corporate drivers and chauffeurs throughout the USA, Canada and related islands.
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Ultra-Smooth and Ultra-Safe Driver Training for Chauffeurs

Advanced Drivers of North America [ADoNA] has trained chauffeurs for maximum safety and maximum smoothness in their driving, from Las Vegas to Canada.

Photograph of a Mercedes 550S sedan, in use for chauffeur training by Advanced Drivers of North America for chauffeur driver-safety training
A Mercedes 550S in use for Advanced Drivers of North America’s chauffeur safety and smooth driver training. (Copyright image.)

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