Marines practice driving reflexes on road course
The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Marines discovered on Wednesday that the phrase “complacency kills” doesn't just apply to combat.
On the tarmac at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, 96 Marines took part in a two-day safe-driving course by the Richard Petty Safe Driving Experience.
The training focused on over-steering, under-steering and how to manipulate an out-of-control vehicle so it is back in the driver’s control.
Before driving, the students were taught by a handful of instructors on the proper techniques for handling a vehicle during undesirable conditions.
“Coming into the turns at such a high speed, the ground comes out from underneath you and the vehicle slides,” said Navy Seaman Edward Green, 25, of
Buffalo, N.Y. “Practicing these techniques on a closed course allows us to experience things before they happen in the real world.”
What shocked him the most, he said, was how easy it is to lose control of the vehicle you’re driving, even in a controlled environment.
“You really don’t know what’s going to happen out there when you’re distracted or whatnot,” said Green, a sailor with sports medicine at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. “Everybody needs to learn not to follow people at such a close distance. You never know what is going to happen. You always have to anticipate the worst-case scenario.”
Lance Cpl. Mitchell Swartz, 19, of Zanesville, Ohio, said he was blown away at how well a vehicle responds when you use the proper techniques in certain scenarios.
“There are a lot of young drivers that want to hot-rod around and do unsafe things,” Swartz said. “No matter where you go, or how fast you’re going there is always the possibility for a mishap.”
Marines need to slow down and pay attention to the road and other drivers because the unknown is always right around the corner, Swartz said.
“I just got in an accident not too long ago,” said Swartz, a Marine from Cherry Point. “If I had known these techniques on that day, I’m pretty sure I could have avoided that wreck.”
The safe driving program allows the students to be put in compromising scenarios in a safe environment. The Department of Safety noted that the Marine Corps was having a high level of driving incidents and part of the plan to fix it is this program, said Rick Fedrizzi, the president and chief operating officer for the experience.
“Awareness of your surroundings and making sure you don’t take driving for granted are two of the biggest things we teach,” Fedrizzi said. “We need people to know there are inherent risks you take when you get behind the wheel.”
One of the intentions of the compromising scenarios is to change people’s mindset about driving and keep them on their toes. Marines and sailors returning from overseas can often let their guard down once their back in the U.S. and can become less concerned or focused than they need to be which can lead to accidents or death, according to Fedrizzi.
“A lot of the problems you see people getting themselves into on the road are because they just aren’t paying attention,” Fedrizzi said. “You cannot be complacent behind the wheel.
“It will kill you.”