KPIC reporter takes a 'spin' in patrol car

KPIC reporter takes a 'spin' in patrol car »Play Video
The DCSO Skid Car helps deputies train for pursuits and other driving situations where they may be distracted by everything they must do in the car.

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- If you were driving by the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, you may have seen a white patrol car doing 'cookies' around the parking lot.

No need to worry, it was just KPIC's Kat Wolcott trying her hand at a little pursuit driving.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office is holding a training this week for deputies to get a feel for what it's like to drive around with all the distractions they have to endure.

These days, being on patrol is about more than just getting from point A to point B.

That's why DCSO is training their deputies on distracted driving. "It's making the deputies drive a course while being distracted with what they're normally being distracted with, and that is the police radio, telephone calls and the computer," said Sheriff's deputy Dwes Hutson.

While all that extra technology is helpful, it can also be dangerous. Deputy Hutson says DCSO deputies were involved in several accidents last year, and distracted driving may have played a part.

"Back in the good ol' days, so to speak, you got into a car and there was a police radio with three buttons on it, and that was basically it. Through the years we've introduced a lot of equipment into the cab of that car, and we don't want those distractions to be the cause of a bad accident," Hutson said.

The 'Skid Car' is fitted with a special hydraulic undercarriage that lets the operator simulate dangerous driving conditions.

On top of driving through the course in what feels like rain or snow, the drivers also have to face other distractions.

Deputy Hutson says training like this is imperative to not only make sure officers can multi-task behind the wheel, but to show them the real risk involved with distracted driving.

"We're hoping that we can reduce the number of accidents that we're having, and keep our employees safe," said Hutson.