CCSD officers sharpen skills with driving course

Photo By Rick Harris
Defensive Driving Deputy Rick Taylor demonstrates high speed braking while Instructor Jeff Markland looks on as Carter County Deputies take their annual Defensive Driving training at Bristol Dragway. Markland (Inset) gives Sergeant Keith Range a high speed tour of the course.

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
Some officers of the Carter County Sheriff's Department have been taking a course this week at Bristol Dragway to help them hone their driving skills.
The Defensive and Tactical Driving Course was offered to officers as part of their yearly inservice training. "Every year as an officer, you have to have 40 hours of inservice and this is what the Sheriff's Department has opted for these 10 people to do," said CCSD Deputy Jeff Markland, who was the instructor for the course.
Markland himself took the course when it was offered at Walter's State Community College in Morristown and he also took a course which enabled him to be qualified to teach the driving course to other officers. "We're actually saving the county a lot of money by holding the school ourselves instead of having to send everyone away to school," Markland said.
The Defensive and Tactical Driving Course is designed to help the officers improve their reaction times on steering and braking as well as teaching them proper acceleration techniques and a steering technique called 'shuffle steering', which is two-handed steering, according to Markland.
The driving course was marked out at the dragway Wednesday with orange cones and tested the abilities of the drivers to maneuver through serpentine curves and hairpin turns as well as their reaction times and ability to park quickly.
On portions of the course, the officers are required to drive the vehicle in reverse while steering around obstacles and also practice their braking. "In national statistics, over 50 percent of law enforcement accidents occur while backing so the course has a lot of backing up in it," Markland said.
Officers participating in the class are graded in two areas -- their ability to complete the course successfully and the time which it takes them to do so.
Some of the officers participating in the class saw the course as a challenge. "You look at it when you first get here on Monday and you think 'I can't do that,'" said CCSD Sgt. L.C. Tester. "But when Friday comes and they test you, you can do it because you've been training for it all week."