What Is the Precision Immobilization Technique?
Motor vehicle pursuit is one of the high-risk activities for law enforcement and security drivers to undertake. Every year in the U.S. alone, hundreds are killed or injured during the course of pursuits.
The PIT maneuver, or precision immobilization technique, was developed to reduce the risks associated with motor vehicle pursuit. By definition, the PIT maneuver is a pursuit tactic by which a pursuing car can force a fleeing car to abruptly turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control and stop.
The technique is typically used by law enforcement officers as a safer alternative with which to end dangerous motor vehicle pursuits. When employing the PIT maneuver, the speed of the two cars involved will determine how far the car will travel once it is bumped. Partially for this reason, the higher the speed, the more unpredictable and dangerous the PIT maneuver becomes.
The first US law enforcement agency to teach PIT as a technique to halt fleeing vehicles was the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia, which modified the parameters for initiating and executing the technique for police use. Terry Pearson and Joseph McDowell were the first law enforcement officers to incorporate the technique into training but it was Terry Pearson who ultimately named it the “Precision Immobilization Technique” or P.I.T.
How It’s Done
The pursuing vehicle pulls alongside the fleeing vehicle so that the portion of the pursuer’s vehicle in front of the front wheels is aligned with the portion of the target vehicle behind the back wheels.
The pursuer gently makes contact with the target’s side, then steers sharply into the target. The pursuer must also accelerate or his/her bumper will slide off of the fleeing vehicle.
As soon as the fleeing vehicle’s rear tires lose traction and start to skid, the pursuer continues to turn in the same direction until clear of the target. This is more of a committed lane change than an actual turn.
The target will turn in the opposite direction, in front of the pursuer, and will spin out.
Check out our own video demonstrating a well-executed PIT maneuver.
The PIT may be done from either side, but consideration must be given to where both cars will end up. Typically, another police car will tail the PIT unit to proceed with the arrest, while the PIT unit recovers its own control and completely stops the car.
The PIT does not immobilize the suspect vehicle and to prevent further flight, two police cars need to pin the suspect between them, front and rear.
For more BSR videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.