Where the rubber meets the Road

Michigan State Police Vehicle Tests offer decision-makers the numbers needed to help analyze law enforcement's 2010 model vehicles


      Each vehicle for a law enforcement agency is unique, like a snowflake — a V6-powered, horsepower-injected, industry-designed snowflake with four tires hammering away at miles upon miles of road, taking each curve and maneuvering to the vehicle's utmost apex of capabilities. Police vehicles enforce the speeding to tap the brakes, hold a revering symbol of authority and order to its public and bring its drivers home safe each and every day. Perhaps these vehicles are not like snowflakes at all.

   You guessed it, the 2010 model's Michigan State Police Vehicle Tests went underway this September, holding the program's unbiased professionalism and results to its historical standard.

   Each vehicle assessment was designed by the program to bring relatable data to law enforcement — numbers officers might have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Going on 35 years, the testing continues to deliver relevant results. The tests includes: Acceleration and Top Speed (Page 20), Braking (Page 20), and Road Dynamics (Pages 16 and 21). Each vehicle, motorcycle, SUV and sedan alike, is sent through the same rigors of the year's schedule.

   This year's testing evaluated the following vehicles:

  • BMW R1200 RTP
  • BMW G650 GS-P
  • Chevrolet Impala 9C1 3.9L and E85 3.9L
  • Chevrolet Tahoe PPV (2WD) 5.3L and E85 5.3L
  • Dodge Charger 3.5L and 5.7L
  • Ford Police Crown Victoria Interceptor 3.27 4.6L and 3.55 4.6L
  • Harley-Davidson Electra Glide
  • Harley-Davidson Road King
  • Harley-Davidson Buell Ulysses

Testing

   Testing was split up for the required space and appropriate environment. Acceleration, braking and top speed were held at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich. Motorcycle road dynamics ran the track in Lansing, Mich., while the Grattan Raceway Park, Grattan, Mich., hosted the vehicle road dynamics.

   While specific details on the Chrysler Proving Grounds are kept a bit secret, acceleration, braking and top speed testing consisted of each vehicle charging forward while a Corrsys-Datron non-contact optical sensor tracked speed and distance — thus recording the relevant data. Since the Chrysler Grounds are oval, the Grattan River Raceway represents real-world driving.

   The Raceway, according to its Web site, includes a curvy 2-mile (roughly) road course with multiple turns of varying degree angles as well as a number of straight-aways allowing drivers to "stretch their legs" pushing the gas pedal down as far as safely possible.

   That said, the drivers deserve much more praise than typically received. Each year drivers take each vehicle into testing producing precise test results, with only a slight range in findings. This year's drivers included (all from the Michigan State Police): Sgt. James Flegel, Sgt. Ronald Gromak, Sgt. Matthew Rogers, Trooper Michael McCarthy, Trooper Nathan Johnson and Trooper Marcus Trammel.

   According to the program's information packet:

   Acceleration — Each vehicle was driven through four acceleration sequences (two northbound and two southbound to allow for wind direction). The four times for each target speed are averaged and reported.

   Top Speed — Following the fourth acceleration run, the vehicle continued to accelerate to the top speed attainable within 14 miles.

   Braking — Vehicles make six measured impending skid (threshold) stops from 60 mph with, if equipped, the vehicle's ABS on at specific predetermined points. Following a 4-minute heat soak, the entire sequence is repeated. The exact velocity at the beginning of each of the 60 to 0 mph decelerations and the distance required to make the stop are recorded by non-contact optical sensors. Data from the total 12 stops are used to calculate the average deceleration rate, which is the vehicle's score for the test.

   These tests were developed overtime from the program working with auto manufacturers with requests of law enforcement agencies.

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