Bluelights and sirens are what most people think of when you say the word “emergency”, but have you ever thought about what happens behind the scenes before a police officer, paramedic or firefighter is allowed to drive on bluelights? In this article we will be explaining driver training behind the bluelights for police officers.
To start off with it is important to note that there are several levels of driver training within the emergency services and often they vary slightly in availablity and requirement from force to force. The most basic is aptly named “basic” and allows a police officer to drive a police vehicle as they would their own. They are not permitted to exceed the speed limit, stop vehicles, drive on bluelights and sirens or travel through redlights. In order to be able to stop vehicles a police officer must complete Compliance Stop training, this is allows the officer to stop a vehicle on a “normal road” from the rear only. If this vehicle fails to stop then they must turn off bluelights and sirens and pull over while letting the control room know using the radio. The next level of training is “Fast Roads training” this allows the officer to patrol and respond to incidents on dual carriageways and motorways, giving extra training on how to protect themselves and the public.
We now come to the “Bluelight” driver training categories, the lowest level of which is referred to as “Standard response”. Standard Response requires officers to complete a 4 week driver training course where they will learn how to control a vehicle at speed, dynamically assess risk and the exemptions that they do and do not have. Officers are assessed throughtout and those that excel will recieve an “advanced driver” recommendation, necessary if they wish to be put forward for the next level of driver training. Standard response drivers are permitted to drive at speed using bluelights and sirens, they are exempt from speed limts up to 100mph or double the posted speed limit that they are travelling in. Despite this the driver must be able to justify and rationalise their manner of driving at all times.
Finally there is the “Advanced Driving” training which allows officers to drive at any speed that they feel necessary by building on the skills learnt during the Standard response training. Advance drivers have to demonstrate proficiencies in driving at high speed, safe pursuit of a fleeing vehicle and providing detailed commentary. As with Standard Response training the emphasis is on dynamic risk assessment.
In conclusion, this is a basic breadown on what is required for a police officer to drive on bluelights when responding to emergencies. I will soon be posting a series of articles on advanced driving techniques so be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss out. I have also posted a video below by Ward Advanced Driver Training which is an excellent example of how dynamic risk assessment is vital whilst on a drive on blue lights, along with a couple of books written by Reg Local, retired police advanced driver.How Not to Crash Advanced and Performance Driving