FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- With the holiday season about to start, Fort Jackson officials are zeroing in on efforts to ensure that all members of the Fort Jackson family stay safe on the road.

The annual "Loaded 45" campaign focuses on eliminating vehicle accidents during the 45 days between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

"It's a time that is characterized by increased travel, inclement weather and holiday parties that may include alcohol," said Sean O'Brian, director, Fort Jackson Safety Center.

According to statistics released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, at least 50 percent of all deadly car crashes that take place during the holiday season involve alcohol.

"A great holiday party can turn tragic very quickly if something bad happens," said Patricia LeDuc, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center Human Factors Task Force director. "Fights, people being too drunk, injuries or a visit from the police can shut a party down in the blink of an eye and turn what could have been a great holiday memory into a very regrettable occasion."

O'Brian said there are some simple tips that can help keep drivers safe this season.

"Wear your seat belt. That's number one," he said. "In addition to drinking and driving, speeding and driving while sleepy are also major causes of accidents."

He also stressed that even Soldiers who plan to only drink a little should make transportation arrangements in advance.

"Our stance remains, if you drink, don't drive," he said. "Just because you're not legally drunk doesn't mean you're not impaired."

O'Brian also said holiday travelers should be aware of the changing weather conditions to plan for snow or other weather conditions that could be dangerous for drivers.

"We try to look at all the hazards that are out there that involve using a privately owned vehicle and educate our folks on it," he said. "We want each and every member of our Army team to return safely after this holiday break."

Soldiers planning to travel outside a 100-mile radius of Fort Jackson must complete the Travel Risk Planning System POV Risk Assessment with their first-line supervisor before departing.

O'Brian said it's a "get-your-head-in-the-game scenario" that can evaluate one's risk level, as well as suggest ways to decrease that risk.

Soldiers simply enter key information about their trip, such as vehicle type, the Soldier's age, and departure/return time, and the computer formulates the risk assessment. The system will even generate a DA 31 (Request and Authority for Leave) and provide travel directions. TRiPS can be accessed through the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center Web site at https://safety.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16