A police force posted a photo (shown above) of one of its officers who stopped a speeding vehicle at an undisclosed location outside of Toronto, Ontario. The officer is seen standing in a live lane while at the driver’s window of the offender’s vehicle. The scenario depicted here is very dangerous as it provides no protection to the officer should a vehicle travel at highway speed in that live lane. While Ontario has enacted a “slow down and move over” law that should, theoretically, prevent drivers from driving in a lane next to a police traffic stop, the practical reality is that there are many instances where slowing and moving over cannot be achieved, especially where large transport trucks block the vehicle ahead. In emergency situations there are instances where police cannot always clear a live lane and that dangers exists. However in the case of traffic stops a driver of a vehicle that has been pulled over can be instructed by an officer to drive further away from a live lane before commencing discussions on a traffic infraction. The officer must also be instructed in using his/her vehicle as a blocking vehicle, positioning it at a proper distance, off-set and angle that it will give the officer the greatest opportunity to avoid major consequences. Also, where possible, an officer should stand on the right side of a stopped vehicle, not on the driver’s side, on high speed roadways and expressways.
Many safety scenarios can be demonstrated to officers at training facilities such as the Ontario Police College near Aylmer Ontario, where sufficient grounds have been available for decades. In the 1980’s I was instructing at the Ontario Police College at courses such as Advanced Accident Investigation. During my many encounters with the College’s traffic instructors Rick Fruin and Murray Turner I was provided with glimpses of how police were trained at the college. I observed some of the testing taking police on the old airport runways that were part of the College’s grounds. I also had an opportunity to conduct some of my own tests using the College’s vehicles and grounds as shown below.
As the police community is close-knit and somewhat closed it is unclear what training is being conducted in the present day to keep officers safety in their traffic duties. But constant reminders need to be given to officers and their actions need to be monitored for their own safety.