MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
The Richard Petty Safe Driving Course hosted Marines and sailors on Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue recently teaching service members to become better defensive drivers.
The course, sponsored through Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Base Safety, was established to teach drivers risk management, alert driving and what to do while driving in inclement weather conditions.
Participants were divided into small groups where they received instruction and drove through simulated conditions such as wet and dry braking. Drivers were given set speeds to maintain as they approached a rumble strip, simulating a stopped vehicle. After passing a certain point in the road, a light was triggered signaling the driver needed to stop. Speeds ranged from 25 to 45 miles per hour.
Participants then discussed real events that ended badly behind the wheel. Drunk driving, distracted driving and solutions on how to avoid dangerous situations were also covered.
Lance Cpl. Erica Bolduc, comptroller for 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, said she volunteered for the course and was very excited to participate.
“My staff sergeant asked if any junior Marines were interested in going,” said Bolduc. “After he explained we would be driving on wet and dry surfaces and losing control of the vehicle, it sounded fun.”
Bolduc added driving through simulated wet and dry weather conditions was most helpful to her and recommends the course to all Marines.
“Some people just get their licenses and are brand new to driving,” said Bolduc. “They don’t understand the consequences of poor driving. They are from different parts of the country and don’t experience varying weather conditions.”
The second portion of the course consisted of drivers learning to handle a front wheel and rear wheel skid. Participants drove through the road course and skid pad to simulate front wheel skids while instructors pulled the emergency brake at random points to simulate a rear wheel skid.
“Our goal was to bring out 48 Marines each day and see if we could teach them more about how to operate a motor vehicle,” said Ron Farris, the traffic safety manager for Marine Corps Installations East. “Today was hugely successful primarily because we reached our target audience, and we hope to keep bringing the course back each year.”
Farris added 90 percent of the participants were lance corporals and below, due to younger drivers being inexperienced, but encourages all Marines to look for opportunities to be safer behind the wheel.
“It’s difficult to learn these types of techniques without having a safe environment like we had,” said Farris.
The four-hour course is offered to the public for $329. However, to encourage safe driver training, the Marine Corps funds Marines and sailors to attend, said Rick Fedrizzi, president and chief operating officer for the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Fedrizzi added it’s a great learning experience to safely handle a car in wet and dry conditions and to learn what happens when people lose control of their cars.
For more information on safe driving courses, contact the base safety office at 451-5725.
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