Safe driving and friendly competition were the main themes of the fourth annual U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) Safe Driving Roadeo held October 1.

Hosted and designed by ATC's Safety & Occupational Health Office, the Safe Driving Roadeo featured events to increase awareness on safety incident patterns found across the command.

"We have designed the events to specifically aim what we've seen as far as accidents," said Graham Walker, Director, ATC Safety. "I think it's important because we have spent some time on an issue that really affects us several times during the year."

After seeing a pattern of relatively minor, slow-speed driving accidents, the Safety team designed the competitive piece of the event to test skills associated with backing up, maneuvering in tight spaces, and parking. Other competition challenges included the proper way to conduct vehicle preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) and general driving knowledge.

While the competition focused on safe driving practices, the event also included information on topics ranging from impaired driving to drowsy driving to tick-borne disease. For Walker, these additional activities increase overall safety awareness.

"We've got a station over there on impaired driving. That's not something we ever expect someone to do on duty, but it is something that could happen off duty," said Walker. "On-duty, off-duty, it's all safety. Anything that brings it to the forefront in people's minds is important."

The competitive aspect of the event added excitement, said Col. John Hall, Commander, ATC, but he noted that there was a practical component to the Safe Driving Roadeo for ATC employees at the leading edge of the risk factors.

"Before items get in to the hands of individuals wearing the uniform, you all are taking these items through their paces," said Hall. "Safety always, first and foremost, and our safety team does a great job in incorporating it as a part of our culture."

As for the friendly competition, the Golden Steering Wheel award went to Derek Wolff and Brian Schein, both engineers with the Engineering Design Development Branch, a team from the Test Technology Directorate.

"We got the repeat!" said Schein, referencing the directorate's second year of winning the coveted prize. However, the importance of the overall event was not lost in the joy of winning.

"They (safety events) bring people together and you get to interact with people you don't normally interact with on a daily basis," said Schein.

"It reinforces that safety is important," Wolff added.

Next up for the Safety team will be the 12 Days of Safety in December, an event focused on occupational accidents and safety at home. These unique, themed events add to the interest of the topic of safety, Walker says.

"Having different, themed events gives things for people to look forward to from year to year, and changing it up every once and a while is important," said Walker. "I think it's good to have variety and make it fun for people and entertaining in some way."