The director of the Highway Safety Center has received a $50,000 funding award from PPL Service Corp. for the project “2012 Advanced Driver Training at Harwood Driving School.”
Louis Pesci has been at the Highway Safety Center since 1997 and became director in 2010.
The funding award will be allocated for instructor salaries and buying and maintenance of the police vehicles used at the Harwood driving school, near Hazelton.
The driving school has four instructors who are retired municipal police officers certified in patrol-vehicle operations. They conduct braking and skidding exercises with PPL employees.
“The school trains about 300 employees each year,” Pesci said.
The advanced-driver training at Harwood offers a two-day program (16 hours) consisting of classroom time and driving time. The program will run May–June and resume again September–October, he said.
Pesci noted that PPL approached the center to evaluate its drivers in 1996 in an effort to reduce collision rates from its employees. PPL built its own training facility, and in 1997 IUP started operating it, offering a perceptual driving program. PPL and the center entered into a contract in 2000 for the Harwood driving school.
Pesci teaches safety/driver education (Health and Physical education Department) at IUP, which certifies students to teach driver's education. It is a 12-credit certification program with four parts: classroom, behind the wheel, multiple-car driving range, and stimulation. Novice drivers can earn their license in the spring and summer sessions for free. Those in the comprehensive driver education program teach the novice students.
IUP has the only comprehensive driver education program in Pennsylvania. The Highway Safety Center has offered proficiency driving programs since 1985.
—Article by Sarah Burke, staff writer for the Penn