THE NEXT LEVEL IN DRIVER TRAINING
USE OF FAAC SIMULATORS
About 7 years ago, Penal Code section 13519.8 was introduced into law to mandate several perishable skills to be taught on a regular basis, which included EVOC. POST performed another study and found the number of vehicle accidents and fatalities or injuries resulting from those accidents had fallen to about 46%. We had made great inroads to reduce collisions, but this was not at all acceptable. Through further studies, it was found that the reason those collisions had occurred was not related so much as to a skill based training curriculum, but more importantly, had a direct connection with decision making.
Unless an officer experiences something that has the potential to harm themselves, their job or their paycheck, it was of no consequence. Since simulators had been introduced as part of the POST mandated perishable skill training set, collisions have dropped drastically. In the past, most pursuits were terminated by supervisors monitoring the pursuits. Today, most pursuits are terminated by the officer through recognition of real hazards and safety issues only learned by experiencing them in the simulator. They have become more aware, having had a personal and similar experience in the simulators and exposed to the result of a crash which would have taken their life if it had occurred in real life. This program doesn't speak to their eyes and ears, but to their heart, and their value system.
Conversely, it has made their behind the wheel (skill based training) on our track far more improved based on correct lane position. Entry into intersections, visual horizon, smoothness on the controls of the car, and a marked effect on their ability to remain calm in pursuits. Both modes of training have become bookends which have enhanced their abilities, and the time required for us as instructors to train them has markedly dropped. When teaching specialized maneuvers such as the P.I.T. (Pursuit Intervention Technique), forward and reverse 180's, box 90's, and other tactics, they are prepared for success on the track because the simulations have already developed their skill-set. What used to take 2 days to teach on the track can now be accomplished in Vi of a day; havin~ been propped in the simulators. This also has had a marked influence on the costs associated with maintenance and damage to the cars due to improper handling. The simulators are a mandatory precursor to any dignitary protection program we put on, and allow us to place them into situations which would be too dangerous on a real roadway driving a real car. We can build any scenario we desire, and this answers the "What If questions the students have instantly at the touch of a few buttons. Also, to run a track program, we use 6 instructors, 12 cars, and go through at least 10 tires daily. The damage to the cars range from floating the valves, to breaking ball joints, burning up transmissions, destroying rear ends. Blowing the rear seals on the axle and the list continues into thousands of dollars required to run and maintain a track based program. These costs are necessary' to keep our students alive, however, it only takes two instructors to provide the same training without use of our cars and costs related to this abuse of our vehicles. By using both our track and the simulators, half of our operational costs have gone away, the level of training has risen exponentially, and they go home at the end of the day, keeping their homes and jobs due to making correct decisions and feeling comfortable in all situations. I have taught over 16,000 students in the last 7 years including officers, firemen, commercial drivers, teen drivers, elderly drivers, and every facet of driver you might imagine. I cannot imagine teaching without the simulators, no more than a carpenter could build a house without a hammer and a saw. We look to the future and continue to break new ground via scenario's which are adapted to current problems that our drivers face every day, Short of direct mind transfer of information, this comes in second place.
Terry Godchaux EVOC Manager
Alameda County Sheriffs Office Regional Training Center