Fort Rucker officials urge safe holiday travel
Terry Singleton, DOL equipment specialist, checks a vehicle's oil level during DOL's seasonal safety stand down Nov. 18. DOL checked vehicles during the morning hours to help people prepare for holiday travel and winterize their vehicles.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security officials discussed ways to stay safe during the holiday travel season during a Safety Stand Down meeting Nov. 19.

Having a plan before beginning any long trip is essential to remaining safe, said Joe Harris, DPTMS Operations Branch chief.

"It's a good idea to know your route before beginning any trip," he said. "Know where you're going and how you're going to get there."

Making sure a vehicle is safe for travel is another important factor in holiday travel, he said. Having an inspection done prior to leaving is a good way to prepare for those long trips.

"Have someone you trust who has good mechanical knowledge look over the vehicle before beginning a trip," he said. "Make sure your vehicle is safe to travel in."

Harris also said travelers should make sure they have the right kind of emergency equipment in their vehicles, in case something happens while on the road.

Having items like jumper cables, a spare tire, jack, a lug wrench and a strong chain can be a big help when in a bind, he added.

Adverse weather and road conditions can make holiday trips more dangerous as well, said Bill Leyh, DPTMS director.

"When you get into a larger city and there are five lanes of traffic going in both directions, it can be overwhelming," he said. "It's also a good idea to know what kind of weather you'll be going into before you start your trip."

Garrison Deputy Commander Justin Mitchell added that even knowing your route well doesn't mean you can't run into possible troubles.

"When I was in Germany, I had traveled my route to work so much I knew it very well. But one day while driving in some cold weather I hit a patch of black ice and slid off the road into a ditch and totaled my car," he said. "That split second of complacency and overconfidence because I knew how to drive on ice and snow showed it can happen to anyone."

Mitchell said that everyone should take those extra steps to be careful during the next few months while traveling.

Texting while driving is now illegal, according to Rollie Edwards, DPTMS Plans, Operations and Mobilization chief, but it's still an issue on the roadways.

"If an accident occurs the police will check the phone records to see if the driver was texting when it happened," he said. "It's better to be uncomfortable because you didn't reply right away than to wind up in an accident."

Harris also pointed out that Soldiers traveling by plane should be careful about identifying themselves as members of the military.

"There are those who will target people in the military, so it's important to be mindful of this when flying," he said. "It's best not to use bags with military insignia or with your name and rank on them."

Harris also said those traveling by plane should keep their own lists of checked luggage to make sure they have everything once they reach their destinations.

Page last updated Wed November 24th, 2010 at 13:10