By U.S. ArmyApril 17, 2014
With half the fiscal year gone, we're well on our way to another positive year for Army safety. As of March 31, accidental fatalities were down 18 percent from fiscal 2013's totals - an impressive achievement by itself, but especially so when considering the multiple missions our Soldiers continue to carry out at home and around the world. Thank you for staying engaged and keeping safety at the forefront of all you do.
The overall reduction in accidental losses was driven by significant drops in fatal accidents both on and off duty. On duty, total fatalities were down 14 percent from the second quarter last year, with the only notable increase in all reportable categories being Army motor vehicle accidents. After several mishaps during the first quarter and one early in the second, numbers have now stabilized at a more expected level. Please ensure your leaders remain aware of the risks and rigorously enforce standards on every mission.
Off duty, fatal accidents fell 20 percent from last year's totals during the second quarter, with sedan deaths down by nearly half and POV-other losses down 40 percent. That's good news for the field, especially after 2013's rash of ATV fatalities. Pedestrian deaths were up slightly, however, and motorcycle fatalities began to rise above last year's numbers late in the quarter (as of April 8, the increase stood at 38 percent). This is worrying, especially since much of the country is still experiencing cooler temperatures. Leaders at those installations with fairer weather this early in spring must double down on their motorcycle safety efforts, and those in locations still mired in the cold should start focusing now on the riding season ahead.
In that vein, next month is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and we'll be highlighting tools and programs on our website at https://safety.army.mil. Please share this information with your subordinate leaders and Soldiers, and let me know what else you'd like to see. Also look for a special message later this month from myself and USACR/Safety Center CSM Leeford Cain regarding leader losses on motorcycles. 10 of the 12 deaths reported on motorcycles thus far in fiscal 2014 have involved NCOs, and we must get to the root of this continuing problem. Our enlisted leaders truly are the backbone of our Army, and we can't afford losses like these to preventable accidents.
There are a few other initiatives here at the center I'd like to highlight briefly. First, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Between phones, navigation systems, music and media players and whatever other gadgetry is installed on newer vehicles these days, drivers are dealing with more distractions than ever before. Our Soldiers aren't immune, and I'm sure we all see examples of distracted driving on our installations every day. The USACR/Safety Center just released "So you think you can drive distracted," a briefing designed to augment awareness efforts already underway by leaders and safety professionals. Please share it with your staffs and encourage them to broach this critical topic with their Soldiers. The exportable presentation package is available at https://safety.army.mil/ShrinkLink/448.
In addition, we'll be releasing an update to the Travel Risk Planning System, or TRiPS, during the first weeks of May. Improvements include a mapping upgrade with support service interface; multi-leg, one-way and round-trip travel options; an RV and trailer planner; improved user email account compatibility; improved reports; improved Joint Service operability; and availability as an app for smart phones. During fiscal 2013, only eight percent of active duty Army PMV fatalities occurred during TRiPS-assessed travel, and similar statistics are available for previous years. Even if you aren't necessarily a fan of the program, the results speak for themselves. When used as a communication tool between supervisor and subordinate, TRiPS pays great rewards in PMV safety.
Another update to look forward to is the 2014 Off Duty Safety Awareness Presentation, scheduled for release on our website April 30. This tool, updated annually, is a highly informative safety presentation containing statistics, contributing factors and other relevant information regarding off-duty accidents. Developed for use at battalion level and below, it comes complete with embedded videos and speaker notes, which may be used as-is or modified to fit a particular presentation style or reflect unit-specific accident trends. Please encourage your safety officers to share the presentation with their Soldiers before we begin the critical days of summer.
We're also publishing a study in the May Knowledge (https://safety.army.mil/knowledge_online/) that addresses the question of whether fatal accidents are more likely to rise in peacetime vs. wartime. The results were surprising, and I encourage you to read it thoroughly and apply the lessons learned in your formations. The study was conducted in-house and looked at accidents across the spectrum of operations, but after further data mining, we noted a few additional observations regarding aviation safety. Given the unprecedented OPTEMPO during OIF and OEF, during which time monthly flying hours increased nearly twofold per aircraft, Class A accident rates have declined below the peacetime low set in fiscal 1997. It's clear that even as adverse environments and high OPTEMPO increase exposure to risk, engaged leadership enables our aviation crews to operate safely in the rigors of combat. That's a principle that can be applied across the board, regardless of mission or branch.
Lastly, I want to recognize the Soldiers, civilians and contractors of Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa., for their recent award of the 2013 Governor's Award for Safety Excellence. Out of nearly 60 competitors, 10 organizations across the state received this prestigious recognition. Congratulations to Tobyhanna's command team and Russel Dunkelberger, safety division chief, on a job well done!
Again, thank you for all you do every day to keep your Soldiers and our Army safe. We're on the right track, and I have no doubt we'll stay on it. While spring and summer are traditionally our deadliest times of year, we can rewrite that history this year by doing what we know works best -- staying engaged, mentoring Soldiers to take ownership of their safety and fostering a culture where risk management is an engrained process, both on and off duty. I hope you all enjoy your spring, and I look forward to reporting back on even greater success in July!
Army Safe Is Army Strong!
TIMOTHY J. EDENS
Brigadier General, USA
Director of Army Safety