Army learns to drive on PCs

The Army Military District of Washington based its Defensive Driving Course-Personal
Computer (DDC-PC) training on the National Safety Council's defensive driving workshop.

Army personnel who drive General Services Administration-issued vehicles must take the
training every four years.

There are 35,000 active duty and civilian personnel in the district, said Cheryl A.
Humbolt, safety and occupational health director at Fort McNair, and about 70 percent need
training to drive nontactical military vehicles. More than 3,000 of them have completed
the DDC-PC course, according to Gene A. Thomas, a logistics management specialist at Fort

Military district officials have estimated that DDC-PC saves about $25,000 a year.
After the first year, they will only pay a $4,500 yearly renewal fee to Professional
Development Associates.

The Farmington Hills, Mich., company sold three one-year network licenses to the
military district in late 1996 through a $15,000 IMPAC credit card buy.

The six forts protect the National Capital region, coordinate ceremonies such as
presidential inaugurations and provide support to bases. Three of the forts have installed
the software on LANs such as the Banyan Systems Inc. Vines network at Fort McNair. As many
as 1,500 users can access the LAN version at once.

Two other forts have installed the interactive, graphical software in educational
centers, and the sixth runs it in a safety office.

The minimum requirement is a 386 PC with 425K of conventional memory.

Humbolt said DDC-PC saves money in part because it combines training and
licensing--users print out their own licenses after completing the course. The licenses
currently are larger than wallet size, and Thomas plans to reduce their dimensions.

Some users cruise through the course in an hour or so, Thomas said, and others have
taken as long as eight hours. The average is two to four hours.

Humbolt said minimal computer literacy is required. Users touch only a few keys such as
Backspace and Enter.

The program consists of 15 pretest questions followed by seven lessons and a test on
which users must score as least 70 percent. Individual forts can set higher pass rates.

Users who cannot complete the training at one sitting can log in later and begin where
they left off. The software provides the correct answer when users are incorrect.

Administrators can track the serial number of DDC-PC licenses on the server to monitor
how many people have completed training.

Thomas said administrators keep close guard over who has access to the server, and
trainees' Social Security numbers are not stored on it for privacy and security reasons.

At least one trainee tried to take a shortcut through the course.

"He said he had completed the course but couldn't print his certificate,"
Thomas said. A system administrator who checked the server for the man's record found the
coursework hadn't been started.

Other government customers of Professional Development Associates' training software
include the Air Force, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, National Park
Service and Postal Service.

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