|All federal government employees and military personnel
who are authorized to drive a General Services Administration (GSA) or
government vehicle must have a valid defensive-driving course
certificate of completion.
Dennis Diercks, a Directorate of Logistics transportation assistant at
Fort McCoy, instructs a four-hour National Safety Council (NSC) course
to meet this requirement.
Dennis Diercks instructs a
defensive-driving course at Fort McCoy. The course is offered
the second Tuesday and third Thursday of each month.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
At Fort McCoy, the course is taught in the morning on the second
Tuesday of each month and in the afternoon on the third Thursday of
The course is required by Army Regulations 58-1 and 600-55.
Military personnel and civilian employees in the Fort McCoy work
force are eligible to take the training.
Diercks said he will arrange special courses for military units that
have a sufficient number of personnel.
“The class has all new videos,” Diercks said. “The
knowledge/techniques of the training really don’t change a lot,
unless a new law is introduced, such as mandatory seat-belt use
(that went into effect in 2009 in Wisconsin and Minnesota).”
Federal law already had required seat-belt usage at military
installations and when driving GSA/government vehicles, Diercks
said. He also, if attendees wish, will go over other federal laws,
such as those that govern the use of cell phones and texting for
drivers. These are prohibited for drivers at Fort McCoy, except for
the use of hands-free cell phones or if drivers use cell phones or
text while they are legally parked.
During the course, Diercks encourages people to share their
experiences and also to ask questions.
Although government employees who need the training also can get it
online, the certification generally lasts for only one year. Diercks
said those taking the course in person are certified for four years.
“I encourage everyone who can to take the live course,” Diercks
said. “If there’s a change in the law, such as mandatory seat-belt
use, they can ask questions about it. You can’t do that in an online
“I keep the course training light and encourage participation. If
someone asks a question that isn’t part of the instruction, and I
don’t know the answer, I can get them an answer from people I
consult with or know.”
Diercks said drivers make choices every time they get behind the
wheel. Good choices lead motorists to their destination safely,
while bad choices can lead to accidents.
“We are all human,” Diercks said. “I don’t think there is anyone who
hasn’t broken some traffic law at one time or another, no matter how
The course also teaches attendees about a number of methods they can
use to help reduce the chances they will be involved in an accident.
Diercks said the course teaches a three-step collision prevention
formula, which encourages drivers to recognize a hazard, understand
the available defensive techniques they can use and act correctly on
Diercks attended a three-day NSC class at St. Paul, Minn., to become
certified as an instructor. He is the only certified instructor at
Fort McCoy who provides the training and one of the few people in
the area who has the nationally accredited certification to teach
Course attendees receive an NSC booklet and a certificate of
completion. Diercks said some insurance companies will offer drivers
who have completed the course a discount, generally 10 to 15
Certificates generally are available no later than the day after
course completion at the Transportation Motor Pool, building 1887.
For more information about defensive-driving requirements in the
Fort McCoy community, call Diercks at 608-388-8081.