It is official: summertime is upon us. As we enter the season of sunny weather, vacations, barbecues and water sports, the U.S. Army Installation Management Command is sponsoring a 101 Days of Summer Safety Campaign to remind all Soldiers, Family members, civilians and the entire Army community to think summer safety through Labor Day weekend.

“I am looking forward to Labor Day for two reasons,” said IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola. “Number one: Sooner, rather than later from that point, the temperatures will drop here in Central Texas. Number two, I will be able to reflect back on a great summer’s worth of memories. What pains me is -- not everybody who reads this will make it there.”

While summer is a time for fun, it is also a time of danger for the Army community with notable increases in off-duty accidental fatalities, especially in automobile accidents.

The three leading causes of accidental deaths involving automobiles in the Army are speeding, driving unbuckled and driving drunk.

“‘Seat belts aren’t cool.’ ‘These cars were meant to be driven fast.’ ‘I’m young, and I’m going to live my life while I can.’ -- I’ve heard all manner of people say all of those things,” said Ciotola. “Ultimately their words come back to haunt them.

“There are 101 days of summer, so, why are we in such a hurry?” added Ciotola.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Army has lost more than 1,000 Soldiers to automobile accidents. Each year, the Army loses an average of 69 Soldiers to automobile accidents and 44 Soldiers to accidents involving motorcycles and recreational vehicles. Many of these accidents are directly attributed to alcohol.

Increased alcohol use throughout the summer, and particularly around major holiday weekends makes the summer season a very grim time for local law enforcement, emergency medical staff, highway safety officials and the friends and families of those involved in alcohol related incidents.

The IMCOM 101 Days of Summer Campaign encourages everyone to use common sense, be decisive and not let friends drink and drive. If you have been drinking, use a designated driver or call a taxi.
Impaired driving is one of the most often committed crimes. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

“The reality is, the roads are dangerous, and as soon as you have your first drink, you have no business being on the road,” said Ciotola.

Not wearing a seat belt is also a big factor in automobile fatalities.

Seat belts are the most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent, and 75,000 people involved in vehicle accidents between 2004-2008 are alive today because they were buckled up, the organization says.

Motorcycle safety is also a big concern for the Army family, especially during the summer months.
“I ride a motorcycle everyday to and from work,” said Ciotola. “I love it, and I enjoy it. I enjoy my proximity to all of the other people on the road as well, but … I view everybody else driving around me as the enemy. As soon as you stop thinking like that, one of them will cut you off.”

As you go about the summer’s activities, remember to slow down, buckle up, take frequent breaks on long trips and do not text or drink and drive.

“I just wonder how many people will get to the end of the summer and look back and have regrets because they could have saved somebody from themselves,” said Ciotola.

Ciotola’s message to Soldiers, Family members, civilians and the entire Army family is simple: “Be committed to doing what you ought to in order to make it to Labor Day.”

For more information about summer safety, visit the U.S. Army Combined Readiness/Safety Center Web site at https://safety.army.mil.

Page last updated Mon June 27th, 2011 at 00:00