(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

As Soldiers prepare for the annual holiday exodus and make plans to travel, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center (USACRC) is gearing up to address off-duty safety, launching its annual Soldier Holiday Leave Campaign.

According to mishap data gathered by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center (USACRC) over a five-year period, the weeks between Thanksgiving and just after New Year’s Day are the second-deadliest time of year for off-duty Soldier mishaps, with the Army losing approximately 11 Soldiers each year. Recent analysis revealed a significant bump in Soldier fatalities around Veterans Day weekend, so the USACRC is releasing its annual Soldier Holiday Leave Campaign earlier to help mitigate those personal risks during the holiday weekend.

Mishaps involving private motor vehicles remain the greatest threat Soldiers will face during the holidays. Behavior-based errors — speeding, failure to wear seat belts, fatigue — are the most prevalent factors in private motor vehicle mishaps, with alcohol use being the greatest contributing factor in holiday leave fatalities. The campaign aims to address these factors by emphasizing a focus on basic, fundamental concepts, such as buckling up and wearing a seatbelt, not drinking and driving, and not driving while drowsy and falling asleep at the wheel.

Campaign products will help leaders build and manage top-quality seasonal safety programs geared toward their unique needs. “Data from the Army Readiness Assessment Program (ARAP) shows that units prioritizing safety and implementing an effective safety culture experience fewer off-duty mishaps,” said Command Sgt. Major Jean Pierre Alcedo, USACRC.

Although it seems rudimentary for leaders to remind Soldiers to do something as simple as buckle their seatbelt, not to speed, or not to drink and drive, the data doesn’t lie. These elementary rules of the road are key factors to most of the mishaps that occur during the holiday season. It is important for leaders to address these factors with their Soldiers. Never underestimate the impact and influence sound leadership has when a Soldier is away on leave or away from his or her unit.

The campaign is available on the USACRC’s website at https://safety.army.mil, as well as the organization’s social media platforms, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram. Scheduled to run through January, it will provide a gradual release of tools and products focusing on important, season-appropriate safety topics.