Protective Driving Skill #2: The PIT Maneuver
CONCEPT: A move made popular by law enforcement, the Precision Immobilization Technique aka Pursuit Intervention Technique is meant to end car chases and stop fleeing suspects by pushing their vehicle into a spin in a controlled and (relatively) safe manner.
OVERVIEW: The principle is simple, if not easy. Match speed with the assailant’s vehicle and line up your front left quarter-panel a few inches from their right rear quarterpanel (or vice versa for the other side). Then, gently turn your vehicle into theirs and accelerate. Be sure when turning into their car that your front wheel is behind their rear wheel. If executed properly, the target vehicle should spin out 180 degrees while you maintain control and continue in your original direction of travel. CONSIDERATIONS: There are several very serious considerations when entertaining the idea of attempting to PIT out another vehicle. The first is legality. If you try this move on your nearest interstate, it'll likely be considered vehicular assault. Furthermore, if the car you PIT spins into another vehicle or off the road and anybody gets injured — or worse — you’ll likely have to answer for that if and when you do make it out of the immediate crisis. Also, there’s a reason they call this a precision technique. You must be able to match the other vehicle’s speed exactly — and while in the perfect position. Too far back and you cause them to fishtail slightly, but not spin. Too far forward and you will just dent the door.
Also, this isn’t a hard slam into the broad side of your target vehicles, like in Hollywood car chases. This is a gentle nudge — a gradual pressure applied from your car to theirs, perpendicular to direction of travel. Don’t forget to acceler- ate as you begin turning into their car until they begin spinning out. If they turn, change lanes, brake, or accelerate, you will have to mirror all of those changes while holding that rear quarter-panel position. Even in our practice sessions at Bondurant alongside a relatively cooperative “suspect” vehicle, this technique was tricky to pull off.
Furthermore, PIT maneuvers can be countered or “short-circuited” with a little bit of effort. As stated above, this move is heavily predicated on proper position and spacing of the two vehicles. Any sudden changes in speed or lane position forces the person initiating the PIT to start from scratch, re-positioning their vehicle. It’s possible for this loop to go on ad infinitum if the target vehicle is constantly changing rate of speed or swerving back and forth across the road.