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A Marine from 2nd Marine Logistics Group drives one of the vehicles during the Richard Petty Driver Experience at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C., Sept. 21, 2011. The course focused on braking, reaction times, tailgating and loss of control. (Photo by Sgt. Rachael K. A. Moore)

Photo by Sgt. Rachael K. A. Moore

Marines, sailors get schooled by the Richard Petty Driver Experience

21 Sep 2011 | Sgt. Rachael K. A. Moore

According to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Traffic Safety Division, there is an average of 200 vehicle accidents per month on base.

In hopes to reduce that number in the future, the safety office brought in a team of professionals from the Richard Petty Driver Experience to educate the some Marines and sailors about the dangers of distractive driving as well as techniques they can use while driving.

“We are here to address a problem,” explained Rick C. Fedrizzi, the President Chief Operator of the Richard Petty Driver Experience. “The problem is American heroes are dying on American soil, and a majority of them were preventable.”

The Petty Safe Driving course took place at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C., Sept. 21, and focused on four topics: braking, reaction times, tailgating and loss of control.

“This course was designed and designated specifically for Marines and sailors by the Clemson University Automotive Institute and conducted by the Richard Petty Driver Experience instructors,” said Staff Sgt. Glyndon G. Murphy, a 2nd Marine Logistics Group safety specialist.

During the exercises, students were distracted by a cell phone and passengers. At a moment’s notice, while driving around the course, the stop light would turn red. The driver would then have to stop without hitting the simulated vehicle in front of them.

“[The Marines and sailors] were taught how to mitigate motor vehicle mishaps by increasing situational awareness and how to negotiate when faced with unexpected events,” said Murphy.

The course also had classroom instruction where the students and instructors talked about real-life vehicle accidents and situations.

“The situations were about Marines of all ages who made poor decisions, whether it was not wearing a seatbelt or drinking and driving,” explained Cpl. Colleen M. Doyle, a radio operator with Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd MLG. “We all make bad decisions, and it’s kind of like a slap of reality when you hear about the consequences.”

This is the first time the Marine Corps has brought in the Richard Petty Driver Experience, however, Murphy says she hopes it won’t be the last.

“This course was one of the most professionally ran courses I have ever seen offered to Marines and sailors on any installation,” concluded Murphy, a Kansas City, Mo., native. “With the number of vehicle accidents happening here, we hope the techniques and lessons learned today will help mitigate the trend.”

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