Officers take vehicle safety courses

Sunday, June 11th 2006, 1:13 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Anxious teenagers ready to get their driver's license and hit the road won't be the only Oklahomans taking driver's education classes this year.

Officers at the Tulsa Police Department are spending more time in driver training since the department recently learned that vehicle accidents kill police more than guns.

Since 1999, nationwide, more officers have been killed by vehicles than by guns, said Tulsa Police Capt. Travis Yates.

The Tulsa Police Department hopes increasing the amount of driver training each officer receives will shrink the number of vehicle deaths.

Driver training was instituted in 1976 and now require 50 hours of training, which is more than double the 24 hours required by all officers in Oklahoma since 1984.

Chief David Been also added 10 hours of mandatory refresher training for all officers every two years beginning this year.

Yates said few departments in the country require recurrent driver training and send officers to the pistol range on a regular basis. Tulsa officers are sent to the range twice a year.

Tulsa officers will take their driving skills courses at a former mobile homes park, which was inundated in a flood in 1984. It was later purchased by the city, which added a training building and skid pad, but used the narrow streets and intersections for much of the training.

All skills can be taught in the compact space except for high-speed chases, Yates said.

However, the city of Tulsa plans to buy four simulators for high-speed training and other driving scenarios officers may encounter that are too risky for on-the-road practice.

The Tulsa training site is available to any police department.

``If they can get here, we'll train them,'' Yates said.

Broken Arrow and Sand Springs are regular users, and even departments in Arkansas have used the course.