Ask The Best & Brightest: How Fast Should A Cop Car Be?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
ask the best brightest how fast should a cop car be

So there I was, minding my own business, driving down the road, enjoying the new Isobel Campbell record and relaxing in the right lane, when I saw two Crown Vics from the local sheriff’s department running up hard behind me, lights, sirens, the whole deal. I moved halfway onto the shoulder to let them by, and then, motivated by nothing more than a love of mayhem, decided to follow them for a while.

The two sheriffs were pushing up to as much as ninety miles per hour in-between clumps of stopped traffic. I loafed along behind them at a distance that allowed those drivers to get started again before I went by. I never went as fast as the cops did, but I never went as slow as they did, either. Over the course of about eight miles, I watched them repeatedly come to screeching brake-and-swerve stops before picking their way through the cars, almost always in a manner that indicated they weren’t looking any further ahead than a few car lengths. Twice the second cop nearly, er, buttslammed the first, usually while applying some pretty heavy-duty steering input in concert with full ABS.

By the time the twin Vics screamed off onto a side road, tossing dirt and rocks in their wake, I was of the opinion that these “trained” drivers would have been out of their depths in NASA’s HPDE 1 group. They repeatedly endangered their own lives and the lives of others… and when I say that, you know some serious idiocy is going down, right? They were unable to separate their turn-and-stop motions. They ran too closely, which adversely affected their ability to make intelligent choices in traffic and dramatically increased the likelihood that they would strike either an innocent bystander or each other.

Perhaps the most damning statement I can make about their ability was that I had no trouble keeping up with them, and I never found myself coming close to other cars or experiencing the sky-high closing speeds they were creating. By running without lights and just working steadily through traffic at 70 mph or so, they would have made better time than they did by gas-and-braking their way down the road. Given a day or two at BeaveRun’s Vehicle Dynamics Facility, I could have completely straightened those two cops out… but I’m no more likely to assist the police than my personal hero, Professor Griff, would be. I’m here to fight the power, yo.

I did find myself thinking that it was a good thing these cops didn’t have any more horsepower than they did. Equipped with HEMI Chargers or Caprice PPVs, these cops would have been hitting 110 or 120 between the gaps. Somebody could have been badly injured.

We already accept, as a society, the idea that it’s better to restrict the capability of machines than to properly train their operators. (See: speed limits, gun control, the OSHA.) What if we simply extended this idea to include law enforcement? In other words, what if we slowed down the cops to protect the innocent? What say you?

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  • Italian Italian on Oct 27, 2010

    In Italy the police have a special license to drive their cars and depending on the type of license you can drive a certain type of car. Faster ones have a license called "fast driving " and the drivers have to do special courses. Also there are 2 or 3 lamborghini that patrol the highway and can be used for special cases such as emergency organ transport. The police officers who drive them have to take a further course and have a special authorization. In europe we drive faster than in the US. Speed limits are a bit higher... they usaly use Alfa 159 2.4 JTD it's a 2.4 liter turbo diesel with 200 bhp 6 speed manual transmition. it's a heavy car seeing all it has in it and its perfect for our high speed driving. Our speed limit is 130kmh (80mph) and on some highway its just been authorised to bring it up to 150 kmh (93mph) Speed that many don't respect

  • Not1ofUhasaclue Not1ofUhasaclue on Feb 22, 2011

    You all sound like a bunch of anti-cop nut jobs... Have any of you ever been in that seat? No, thats what I thought. If you have experienced life in the drivers seat of a Police car you would know that many times you can actually get through traffic faster without lights and sirens because you get far fewer retards, like as all you anti cop nuts, freaking out, stopping in front of you or driving totally erratic while they try to remember what they are supposed to do when a emergency vehicle comes up behind them. While driving with lights and sirens people tend to freak out either thinking they are getting pulled over or just being plain stupid. Maybe 2 in 10 cars will actually pull over to the right and stop as the driving test instructed them to do. The rest stop right where they are at, stop right in front of the Officer or just keep on going while singing along with the radio not paying one bit of attention to the police car or ambulance behind them. Add the fact all the auto makers have made it a goal to reduce road noise and practically sound proof their vehicles. If you're acually paying attention you'll hear the siren when the police car is right behind you. If you're like the rest of the world listening to the radio while talking on the phone and eating you probably won't notice till the emergency vehicle passes you. Sure some cops are horrible drivers but there are people everywhere in every profession that are horrible at parts of their jobs. 90% of cops are better drivers then most the popluation. Sure they get in accidents but when you are on the road 10-14hrs per day the risk of an accident are greatly increased. Remember even race car drivers crash and all they have to do is drive. Besides driving a cop has to shoot, baby sit your kids, baby sit adults that act like kids, be a professional fighter, write reports and the list goes on... Put lights and sirens on your car then try to make it though traffic to the location where your wife, kids or best friend is in a knock down drag out fight with a person that is intent on causing them harm. Add the fact that there is at least one gun involvded in this fight and if your friend / family member loses control of it they will likely be killed... You'll be driving as fast as you could to get there and I bet I'd have no problem following you in my personal car since nobody is going to freak out and stop in front of me...

    • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Feb 22, 2011

      Not1ofUhasaclue - well actually I have worked law enforcement... Have been that guy on calls rushing through traffic. And around here, most people DO get out of the way. Try a different region of the country. America is not the same coast to coast.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.