MANNHEIM, Germany - A patrol car speeds down a wet road when suddenly the car lurches to the side. Tires squeal, and the driver slams on the brakes.

It's a scene that replays over and over again.

Fortunately, the scenario is a controlled event on the Hockenheimring race track in Hockenheim, Germany, and part of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC) driver safety course there.

The 12 military police Soldiers from the 18th Military Police Brigade driving the patrol cars during the course there Nov. 21 were selected by their leadership to attend in an effort to enhance their driving skills.

The Soldiers and their patrol cars were trained and tested in a variety of scenarios including a slalom course, braking, a circular track, a downhill course, and a skidpan on both wet and dry roads.

Robert Myrick, the safety officer for the 18th MP Bde., said putting the drivers in a number of controlled, hazardous situations is an eye-opener for a lot of them.

"I think what the course does is it makes them aware of all the things that could possibly happen while they're operating a patrol car," Myrick said.

For instance, when Soldiers on the course hit the skidpan - a hydraulically operated plate that shifts the rear of the vehicle and makes it skid - knowing that they have the knowledge to get their car back on course is a big confidence builder.

Given the Soldiers attending the course had all been involved in previous accidents, building confidence behind the wheel is something the course tries to do for the Soldiers, Myrick said.

"In an emergency situation, it is important that you think in (terms of) solutions and not problems," said Paul Muk, an instructor for the ADAC course.

Giving the Soldiers the tools and information to make the proper driving corrections in a variety of situations, combined with the hands-on training, is essential to their future success behind the wheel.

Pfc. Jessenia McElroy, an MP Soldier with the 529th Military Police Company, 95th Military Police Battalion, said she felt like she gained a lot of important information that will help her in the future, but she also gained perspective that helped her understand past events.

"I was in a prior accident and (during the course) I got to experience what I did wrong, and I learned what I could have done better to prevent it," McElroy said.

Having the Soldiers learn how they react to a given situation, in addition to how their patrol vehicles react to a given situation, was a major part of the learning experience.

Soldiers drove older and newer patrol vehicles, drove at increasing speeds, and under various conditions giving them an appreciation for the many variables they may face in the future.

At the end of a full day of driving, many Soldiers said they felt they had learned a lot of useful tips that they would take back to their units and share with fellow Soldiers.

"I would recommend this course. Everyone should take it," said Pfc. Kyle Shepard, an MP Soldier from the 230th Military Police Company.

With the amount of hours MPs spend on the road every day as a part of their community law enforcement mission, making sure Soldiers stay vigilant while driving is part of keeping the roads safe.

Col. Thomas Evans, the commander of the 18th MP Bde., has invested in the program since August 2009 in an effort to keep MP Soldiers safer on the roads and reduce the amount of damage to government vehicles.

While not every Soldier in the brigade will have a chance to attend the driver safety course, there is an increase in interest from Soldiers to get the opportunity to improve their abilities.

"I think the word is getting out that there's training going on, and a lot of people want to go out and enhance their skills," Myrick said.

The ADAC Driving Safety Center offers 42 different training courses, ranging from basic training for motorcyclists to safety training for bus and truck drivers and premium training for car drivers. For more information visit

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16