Motor Officer Alertness

By Attanasio, Allan | Law & Order, June 2004 | Go to article overview

Motor Officer Alertness


Attanasio, Allan, Law & Order


Motor officers who develop their skills of observation and reaction will have a lower risk of being involved in a collision than those who fail to develop these skills. While on patrol, motor officers need to constantly be alert for hazards. Their ability to quickly react to hazards depends on their alertness as well as their riding skills.

By scanning both the roadway and the surrounding environment for changing traffic conditions the officer will reduce his perception time, thus allowing for a faster reaction time. A minimum of a two-second following distance should always be adhered to.

Motor officers have the ability to see more than officers in cars as they sit higher and have greater flexibility in their lane positioning to obtain a better view. Officers can improve their alertness by learning to look everywhere and observing what may be a potential hazard. This can be accomplished by scanning a 12- to 14-second path of travel ahead of you by moving your eyes in all directions and checking your mirrors for changing conditions behind you.

Officers should watch for turning vehicles, occupants in parked cars who may swing a door open, idling vehicles that may pull into your path, pedestrians, animals, potholes, loose gravel, shaded areas for icy spots, fluid spills, debris, driveways, roadway, paint, manhole covers, water, rail crossings and roadway joints.

You should adjust your lane positioning to avoid any of the above-mentioned hazards. In addition to lane positioning you should continually predict what potential hazards might do and make a decision of how you will deal with the condition. Should a potential hazard become a hazard you can immediately carry out your decision.

Your ability to observe your surroundings during night hours is greatly diminished. Officers should wear clear eye protection, as tinted lenses can distort your vision. You should always be able to stop your motorcycle in the distance illuminated by your headlight. While scanning at night, officers should watch for the angle of approaching headlights to determine the direction of approaching traffic.

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