By Julie Shelley, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety CenterFebruary 4, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 4, 2014) -- Following the Army's safest year on record, accidental fatalities fell once again during the first quarter of fiscal 2014, according to data recently released by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center.
Overall, accidental deaths declined 21 percent from the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, due largely to significant drops in private motor vehicle, or PMV, accidents. Historically, PMV mishaps have been the No. 1 accidental killer of Soldiers.
"We're obviously very pleased with that news," said Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens, director of Army Safety and commanding general, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center. "With so many extended holidays in the first quarter, there's always a chance we'll see a spike in driving fatalities. It's an encouraging sign that Soldiers are increasingly taking personal responsibility for their safety off duty."
On-duty deaths remained relatively stable with last year's figures, although Army motor vehicle accidents were up for the first time in several months. Three Soldiers died in Humvees, all while conducting home station training.
"The numbers are still pretty low, but we want to get a handle on the issues now to prevent these type accidents from becoming a trend," Edens said. "We have more Soldiers at home station now than we have in years, and [vehicles] are part of nearly every training activity. Leaders should be paying close attention to factors like speed, the environment and restraint system use every time a crew gets ready for a vehicle mission."
Command Sgt. Maj. Leeford C. Cain, USACR/Safety Center, said non-commissioned officers will continue to play a critical role in keeping their Soldiers safe, whether on or off duty.
"NCOs are our first line of defense for safety," he said. "They should be showing their Soldiers how to manage risk, first through standards enforcement on the job and then by example off duty."
With spring just around the corner, both Edens and Cain urged leaders to focus their safety programs on the season's hazards, predominantly motorcycle accidents and drowning.
"Water-related fatalities rose 225 percent during fiscal [year] 2013," Edens said. "We have a moral and professional imperative to make sure that number goes down this year."