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Letter: Learn how to recover control of vehicle

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Lt. Mike Brown

Indiana Law Enforcement Academy

My heart ached this morning as I read the article in the paper of another young life taken in a tragic accident. It also prompted me to write this letter.

While I do not know the Compton family personally, her story is all too familiar. As a retired CPD officer and currently a driving instructor at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy with over 28 years of instructor experience, I know that her tragic accident is a common theme. Statistics show that the leading cause of death among 18- to 25-year-olds is motor vehicle accidents, with a high number of those accidents attributed to an off-road recovery incident.

It is a driver’s natural instinct when going off road to jerk the steering wheel quickly to try to bring the vehicle back up on the road. Unfortunately, the jerking of the steering wheel can result in the driver losing control, which can lead to vehicle rollover, vehicle crossing the center line into oncoming traffic or going completely off road. The following are steps that are taught to all police officers going through training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy if they encounter an off-road recovery situation.

1. Stay off the brake.

2. Get off the gas.

3. Regain level control of the vehicle.

4. Non-aggressively steer smoothly at a 45-degree angle while feeling for the tire(s) to return up onto the roadway, at which time straighten the wheel.

By utilizing the above techniques the driver can maintain control of the vehicle and at least have a chance of returning it to the roadway safely and in control.

The Columbus Police Department currently offers a Precision Driving Program for Teens that originated in 2004. Students are instructed by officers who are certified instructors in emergency driving. During class, students receive instruction on the basics of defensive driving to include off-road recovery training. If you have questions regarding the program, contact the Police Department at 376-2600 or if you have questions for me, please feel free to contact me at 317-837-3251.

To the Compton family, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

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