Program helps curb accidents
February 23, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- A roadside inspection program to help decrease motor vehicle accidents at Fort Sill has been under way for about six months.
Inspectors from the Fires Center of Excellence G4 logistics office have been performing spot checks of military vehicles for properly licensed drivers, dispatch paperwork, logs, current daily vehicle safety checklists, safety gear and basic issue items, such as jacks and spare tires.
The inspectors do the unannounced inspections about once a month usually where there is high military-vehicle traffic, such as Howitzer Trail, on both the training and forces sides of post. The program was initiated by the FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general to get control of accidents and find out why they are happening, said inspectors.
"The whole object is to ensure safe driving," said Master Sgt. Ted Holcombe, G4 noncommissioned officer in charge. "We check to see if operators have been trained on the equipment they are rolling, they have the safety equipment and the proper documentation."
Three G4 inspectors and a safety officer typically stop between four to 10 vehicles during their 90 minute inspection, but sometimes they will stop an entire convoy.
About 90 percent of the vehicles will have a discrepancy with either its safety equipment or the daily preventive maintainence check and services, or PMCS sheet, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Williams, G4 logistics maintenance officer.
"The program is about prevention and education," Williams said.
"We do not issue citations, instead battalion commanders and executive officers are provided information about the number of Soldiers (who remain unnamed) and the safety violations," Williams said. The reports are also shared with Maj. Gen. David Halverson, FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general.
And, the inspectors always tell violators how they could have avoided the discrepancy or remedy it.
For example, one driver purposely left his basic issue items at his unit because he was taking the truck to a shop to be repaired and didn't want the tools to get stolen. The tools could have been left locked in a cargo hold in the truck, Williams suggested to the driver. Or, a lead vehicle containing the tools could have accompanied the truck to its destination.
Another area of high violations is improper licensing, which is noted on a Soldier's military driver's license.
"Just because you're licensed for a Humvee doesn't mean your licensed for all models of Humvees," Williams said. "If you put a shelter (shell) on a Humvee, that changes the dynamics of the vehicle and so you now have to be licensed on that vehicle."
If a driver is found to be unqualified to drive, the vehicle will remain at the inspection point until the battalion can provide a driver to move it.
"If that Soldier had gotten into an accident, he or she and the battalion would be liable," Holcombe said.
Among the items on his checklist, Staff Sgt. Martin Alexander, G4 road inspection NCO, looks for seatbelt useage and ACU helmets being worn, as well properly secured loads. If hazardous materials are being transported, the vehicle must also be appropriately marked with placards.
He said one of the most common excuses he hears from violators is: "I was just going to the wash rack, the Directorate of Logistics, or the fuel site."
Just because one's destination is nearby doesn't mean the vehicle doesn't have to be properly dispatched, he said.
Another common violation Alexander sees is in safety gear. Sometimes there are no inspections tags on fire extinguishers.
How do you know if it charged and how are you going to put out a vehicle fire it it isn't, he said.
But some Soldiers get it, Holcombe said, about one operator.
"This Soldier was on it. He had his dispatch, he had his log book, all his forms, his license was straight," Holcombe said.
Michael Monroe, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade safety manager, assisted the inspectors on a recent inspection.
"I understand commanders are super busy, and Soldiers are having to do more things with less," Monroe said. "But they still have to get it in their minds that they can't become complacent just because things become routine because then accidents will happen."