Simulations remind drivers to look ahead, communicate

FAIRMONT — Local law enforcement officers are tuning up on their defensive driving skills thanks to a program offered by WVCoRP.

On Tuesday, deputies with the Marion County and Monongalia County sheriff’s departments and officers with the Farmington Police Department participated in a defensive driving program.

John Bolling, the safety coordinator with WVCoRP, said the program refreshes law enforcement officers on defensive driving techniques along with safe driving tips. He said defensive driving has helped prevent several accidents throughout the state.

“Defensive driving is key,” he said.

Bolling said when officers or deputies are called to an emergency, their goal is to get to the emergency as quickly and safely as possible. The program reminds drivers to look ahead, look around, leave room and communicate.

“The goal is to get there and get there safely,” Bolling said.

After sitting through class, those in attendance got to test what they learned in a simulation.

A Marion County sheriff’s patrol car was placed inside the Marion County Election Center and set up on blocks that allowed the car to function as a simulation.

Each driver practiced defensive driving skills during three situations — emergency response, pursuit and regular driving.

Chief Deputy Ralph Wright with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department said having his staff take the defensive driving class will allow them to freshen up on their driving techniques.

“We want the community to know that we’re out there trying to protect them as well as ourselves,” he said. “By getting this training, it allows us to be safer on the streets.”

Wright said deputies and other law enforcement officers spend most of their time on the roads. With the training, they hope to make deputies more aware of their surroundings when in a cruiser.

Bolling said having a Marion County sheriff’s vehicle as a base of the simulations helps the officers and deputies stay in their environment. He travels throughout West Virginia and Virginia to give the program to law enforcement agencies.

Wright said drivers on the road can help law enforcement agencies get to a scene safer by also being aware of their surroundings.

He said if a driver hears and sees an emergency vehicle driving behind them, they need to pull to the side of the road and let the vehicle pass.

Deputies will continue to take the program throughout the week.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.