Century Driving School


Case Study: Law Enforcement Driver Competency Assessment


Background Information: 
Mr. Ruger is an officer who works in a K-9 unit for a local police department.


The Problem:
Mr. Ruger often has trouble focusing on the primary task of driving. According to NHTSA (Jan 2011), this is one of the top ten factors in officer fatalities.


The Results:
From the results we can conclude that Mr. Ruger is skilled at handling a vehicle. The data above indicates that there is a high level of variance in speed, which seems to indicate that Mr. Ruger does need some improvement in choosing a consistent choice of speed. Another factor of concern is the driver's space management skills. The final, and most concerning finding was the decrease in Mr. Rugers driving ability when internal disctractors were presented.


When Mr. Ruger is driving, he is often thinking ahead about how he and his K-9 partner are going to respond and react to a particular scene. While Mr. Ruger's line of work does involve being able to triage a call, he has a tendency of allowing the triage to dominate his information-processing, thereby causing him to forget about the primary task, which is driving the vehicle. When a daydreaming type of distraction was presented in the DCA, Mr. Ruger did not respond well. His visual search patterns diminished from nearly 300 degrees to only 90 degrees directly in front of him. The act of counting backwards as an internal distraction caused Mr. Ruger to become aware of the fact that his driving was being affected and he eventually stopped counting to eliminate the distraction. This observation is important, since Mr. Ruger admits that he often unknowingly creates those internal distractions while he is driving.


Action Plan:
In order for Mr. Ruger to begin correcting his deficiencies we recommend he focus on creating a driving environment with as few internal distractions as possible. It is crucial that Mr. Ruger keep in mind that his primary task needs to be driving in order to reduce his risk potential. Since any internal distraction seems to affect speed choice and space management, Mr. Ruger should make a point of creating more space between himself and other road users. An increase in awareness of what other drivers are doing will help to reduce risk caused by any possible distractions.