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Rodrigo Cruz named Instructor of the Year at DDC Awards Celebration


Indianapolis – Rodrigo Cruz was honored as the 2016 Instructor of the Year on Saturday at the National Safety Council’s annual Defensive Driving Courses Awards Celebration, part of the 2017 NSC Congress & Expo.

Cruz is a DDC 4 instructor at the U.S. Army Garrison in Fort Riley, KS. Over the past 12 years, he has taught remedial and defensive driving to soldiers, army civilians, family members for both groups, and retirees.

“The impact of Mr. Cruz’s participation has been tremendous,” wrote Cruz’s supervisor, Richard Hearron, when nominating Cruz for the award. “In the unique driving environment of a military installation, Mr. Cruz’s DDC 4 participants vary in both driving responsibilities and types of vehicles. Mr. Cruz’s engagement with soldiers has led to an 8 percent reduction in [privately owned vehicle] accidents and a 100 percent reduction in [Army motor vehicle] accidents from a backing vehicle.”

The DDC Awards also honored eight certified master instructor trainers, who are responsible for teaching instructors in each of the seven instructor-certified DDC programs. They are:

  • Carey M. Cox (Center for Transportation Safety; Grand Junction, CO)
  • Kevin Crider (Colorado State Patrol; Johnstown, CO)
  • Mike Ezzell (Greater Texas Training; Houston)
  • Darryl Gaines (Charter Communications; Scarsdale, NY)
  • Daniel E. Jones (Truck Safety Consulting; Warrenville, IL)
  • John Pinckney (National Transportation Consultants; Muncie, IN)
  • Charles R. Stebbins III (Virginia State Safety Council; Bedford, VA)
  • Andrew Williams (Tennessee Regional Safety Council; Nashville, TN)

This year’s awards ceremony marked the final one for James A. Solomon, director of Defensive Driving Program Development and Training at NSC. Solomon will retire in February after 32-plus years at the council.

“I know what it feels like in the field to teach the classes, and there’s a bonding when those instructors come across the stage,” Solomon said. “To most of them, to win this award is the highlight in their life. Out of all of the people who teach that course this year, someone said they did it the best. Like most of them, they’re in it to keep people alive. That’s the greatest affirmation you can give an instructor.”