Joe Fitzgerald is a professional speaker and owner of Southeastern Driver Training Center. Joe is a former Traffic Crash Reconstructionist and has testified as an expert witness in the fields of Traffic Crash Reconstruction, Drug & Alcohol Impaired Driving, Field Sobriety Testing and the Streets & Highways of Wilmington, NC. In 2007 Joe was awarded the Outstanding Service Award by the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program and New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office.
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several hundred US Marines at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC as a part of their “Rethink the Drink” initiative.  The goal of this initiative is to inspire the Marines to make wiser decisions concerning drug and alcohol use.  I expand on this goal a little and draw from my experience as a former law enforcement officer and Traffic Crash Reconstructionist and speak on the importance of making good decisions behind the wheel. Sadly, traffic crashes are the number one “mishap” killer of US Marines according to a 2018 article in the Marine Corps Times.

We can’t always avoid becoming involved in a crash when someone else makes a bad decision. However, we can avoid the crashes that would be caused by the decisions we make and those are the ones we focus on. These are the crashes that result from speeding, impaired driving and distracted driving.  This doesn’t only apply to the men and women of our military but it applies to all drivers throughout our country.  Each year nearly 60% of the fatal crashes on our roads are attributed to these three behaviors.  It’s especially disheartening when one of these crashes takes the life of a service member.  These young men and women make a choice to serve and protect our country but have their life cut short due to a bad decision on someone’s part.

In these presentations I hope to encourage these young Marines to think about the big picture and not just live in the moment.  Trying to remind them of what their purpose is.  Because some of us tend to be very mission and objective driven.  Meaning, when we are assigned a task, we try to do everything in our power to accomplish and complete this task.  However, we can’t complete a task if we lose our life in a car crash.  The members of our military can’t complete their mission if they don’t make it to it.  If we lose a service member in a crash, then we lose someone who is helping to make our country a little safer.

While we can’t always control the actions of others, we can control our own actions.  We can control our speed.  We can control whether or not we pick up our phones while driving.  We can control the decision to get behind the wheel after we’ve been drinking.  These men and women that serve our country are special and the more we can save on our roads the better off our country is.