As the summer kicks into high gear, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command leadership cautions personnel to remain vigilant and observe safe practices when operating a motor vehicle.

Aca,!A"Accident prevention and mission effectiveness are inseparable. Everyone has an obligation to operate motor vehicles within legal and personal limits while monitoring and adapting to changing traffic and road conditions,Aca,!A? said Maj. Gen. Randolph P. Strong, CECOM commander.

According to Army accident statistics, as of July 18 2010, the Army reports 79 POV (Privately Owned Vehicle) Class A accidents this fiscal year. Of those, 79 were fatalities. Although POV accidents have decreased in comparison to last fiscal year, the Army recognizes the importance of each SoldierAca,!a,,cs role in keeping its Soldiers safe and combat ready.

Aca,!A"While IAca,!a,,cm proud our Army has made gains in last yearAca,!a,,cs historic reduction in fatal accidents, we cannot be content with only minor progress in our fight to save lives,Aca,!A? said U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center commanding general and director of Army Safety, Brig. Gen. William T. Wolf.

Wolf says the vast majority of the fatalities involving POVs and motorcycles can be attributed to indiscipline behavior such as speeding or driving recklessly. Actions such as speeding and neglecting to wear seat belts and personal protective equipment contribute to such accidents, thus they are preventable.

Aca,!A"Sadly, indiscipline in the form of speed was involved in two of our most recent POV fatalities,Aca,!A? said Wolf. He encourages Soldiers to have a positive influence on their peers and to help build an Army culture grounded in safety, on and off the job. The National Safety Council reported that speeding is a contributing factor in crashes that kill approximately 12,000 people every year. Speeding shortens the time a driver has to react and avoid a crash and often increases the severity of the incident.

Preventing accidents requires a behavioral change, according to Strong. He says being a safe driver goes beyond observing the speed limits alone; it means not taking unnecessary chances on the road; wearing a seat belt at all times; and properly stopping for stop signs, red lights, school buses and emergency vehicles.

As CECOM continues the transition from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen Proving Ground, many CECOM personnel will be on the road preparing for and moving themselves and their families to Maryland.

Steve Hart, CECOM Directorate for Safety director, cautions drivers against texting while driving and advises them to keep informed about Maryland traffic laws.

Aca,!A"As CECOM transitions to APG, our workforce spends a lot of time on the road. We also want to remind our personnel that texting while driving is unsafe and illegal in Maryland ,Aca,!A? said Hart.

The Maryland Senate and House have passed bills to prohibit the use of the cell phones while driving to include using a text messaging device to write or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle or in the travel portion of the roadway. The law is even more stringent for drivers who are minors. Further legislation is being considered to prohibit Aca,!EoereadingAca,!a,,c a text message while driving.

Operating a vehicle at high speeds can decrease a driverAca,!a,,cs ability to control the vehicle, according to Bob McNabb, safety manager for the CECOM Directorate for Safety at APG. He said not only is it important to avoid speeding, but also to be aware that loss of control can stem from many situations to include: bad weather conditions; speeding up or stopping abruptly; changing directions quickly; or taking a curve at an inappropriate speed.

Aca,!A"Practice defensive driving,Aca,!A? said McNabb, Aca,!A"Drivers should be aware of surrounding vehicles. Try not to be aggressive, tailgate, speed, cut in and out of traffic, cut other vehicles off, and donAca,!a,,ct give in to road rage. All of these behaviors are unnecessary and can easily cause an unwanted accident.Aca,!A?

Not only drivers are affected by car accidents. According to The National Institute of Health, 4,278 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in the United States in 2008 alone.

Although pedestrians have the right-of-way, one cannot rely on the attention and safety precautions of drivers. The FHWAAca,!a,,cs Office of Safety recommends the following safety tips for pedestrians. Use crosswalks and wear visible clothing at night; or carry a flashlight to alert passing drivers; and always walk facing traffic.

Do not assume a car will stop. Make eye contact with the vehicleAca,!a,,cs driver to be sure the driver is paying attention.

Eliminate distractions. Do not wear headphones or talk- or text on a cell phone while crossing streets.

CECOM leadership encourages personnel to steer clear of preventable accidents. Aca,!A"Skill is the result of proper training, sound judgment and practice,Aca,!A? explains Strong. Aca,!A"Preventing the loss of a single Soldier or civilian is our number one priority!Aca,!A?
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