Borough employees given hands-on training on defensive driving through grant
PUNXSUTAWNEY — They say in sports that good defense will stop good offense every time, and the same can be said for driving, too.
That's why Punxsutawney Borough held a defensive driving course on Wednesday in the parking lot located in front of Jack F. LaMarca Stadium at Punxsutawney Area High School.
Tom Fedigan, Punxsutawney Borough Police chief, said that last year, he applied for a grant with the borough's insurance company, Penn Prime, for the defensive driving course.
"We were fortunate enough to receive the grant funding, and John P. Rock Inc. Training Programs is affiliated with our insurance company. So, he came here to run borough employees through the course," Fedigan said, adding that this course is not designed for pursuit training.
"It is a basic, everyday, defensive driving course; all the borough employees, in addition to the police department, public works, sewer department and borough office employees, participated in the course," he said. "All of the employees said how much they enjoyed this training."
Rock said he is retired from the Pennsylvania State Police, as a lieutenant, after 25 years of service.
He said he has experience in patrol, accident reconstruction, criminal investigation and management.
Rock also served as the commanding officer of the PA State Police Commercial Vehicle Safety Section.
"I was one of the first accident re-constructionists. Unfortunately, I investigated over 85 accidents involving fatalities," Rock said. "Seeing these fatal crashes, I realized that something needed to be done."
He also said that his training and job experience assist him with his new work.
"These investigations have given me an insight into how vehicles operate and respond,” he said, "as well as insight into how drivers respond in stressful situations.”
He said he received his defensive driver’s training at the Wisconsin Decision Driving Center at Fox Valley Technical College, in Appleton, Wisc., in 1995.
Then, in 1998, Rock developed the Advanced Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Emergency Vehicle Operator’s Course (EVOC), which was sponsored by the PA State Fire Academy.
Rock said this program was featured in Firehouse Magazine, a national publication.
These experiences have helped John develop the highest-quality driver’s training courses available.
He said his Defensive Driving Training Program is recognized and recommended by PennPRIME Insurance Trust, which provides coverage and services exclusively for Pennsylvania municipal entities.
"To demonstrate their support of this worthwhile program, PennPRIME provides grants to its members to subsidize the cost," Rock said,
Rock said that his defensive driving course gives the police officers and other borough employees the opportunity to drive a vehicle in some tight-maneuver obstacles.
"We simulate vehicles stopping in front of them, and when they stop, they have to deal with drivers who brake in front of them," he said. "The comprehensive course includes a classroom session, which covers topics such as why crashes happen, vehicle dynamics, criminal and civil liability and the importance of wearing seat belts."
He said the practical driving session offers participants the opportunity to apply the principles learned in the classroom, as well as to learn the limitations of their vehicles and their own limitations as a driver.
"My experience as the commanding officer of the PA State Police commercial Vehicle Safety Section helps motor carriers meet the standards of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS),” Rock said.
In addition to the afternoon session with police vehicles, public works and sewer plant employees trained on a dump truck in the morning session.
Rock was assisted by Dianna Marcinik, who has been with the group for 17 years. He said he was also assisted by Dona DeFelice, a retired corporal with PSP.
"We also teach pre-trip inspection for commercial vehicles and air brake testing," Rock said, adding that Marcinik and DeFelice do a fine job teaching those programs too.
For more information, call Rock at 1-724-989-8782 or check his website at www.safedrivingguy.com.