FORT KNOX, Ky. (Aug. 2, 2010) - Well it's that time of the year again. Time for the grill sergeants to show off their barbecue skills. Time for the kids to enjoy their summer break by the pool or beachside. Time for the avid motorcyclist to break out their cruisers and sport bikes.

Unfortunately, summer is also the time for an influx of accidents, whether it be military - related or in the civilian sector.

With this in mind, the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) has taken an active role to ensuring its Soldiers are performing safe acts throughout the summer months of June - September.

"Not only are we promoting safety within the 3d ESC, we're promoting safety Army - wide," said Chief Warrant Officer Alvin Jones, the 3d ESC's safety officer. "Soldier safety is important to the Army as a whole, not just within each individual unit."

Motorcycle safety is a major emphasis of the command's summer safety program. Annually, accidents and fatalities on motorcycles are high within the Army community, and FY 2010 is no different.

As of July 29, 2010, motorcycles are responsible for 27 percent of off duty fatalities for Soldiers. To help reduce this number, the 3d ESC implemented a motorcycle mentorship program which has proven very successful.

"Within the Army, there is an established program that requires each motorcycle rider to take the proper motorcycle safety foundation course in order to operate their motorcycles," said Jones.

Jones mentioned that even though there has been an increase in motorcyclists within the 3d ESC, there has been a decrease in accidents. The only fatal motorcycle accident within the 3d ESC thus far has been with the 49th Transportation Group, a subordinate unit from Fort Lee, Va. Jones credits this to the command's motorcycle mentorship program.

Also with Kentucky's temperatures often reaching the upper 90's, many Soldiers often look toward water sports as a means of relief.
During the summer months, Soldiers often swim and boat, which impose several types of threats. Jones said that those planning to go swimming or boating should do so only in properly supervised, authorized areas. They should obey all rules and posted signs and not use alcohol while doing so, as it impairs judgment, balance and coordination.

"It doesn't matter whether someone is on a watercraft or swimming, alcohol should definitely not be used," said Jones.

Privately owned vehicle safety is another topic often being discussed in the 3d ESC's safety meetings. So far, POV accidents have been responsible for 53 percent of Army military accidental fatalities, according to the Army's safety website.

As a result, the 3d ESC ordered supervisors to perform monthly inspections on their Soldier's vehicles, while stressing safe driving practices.

When operating a POV, the 3d ESC requires Soldiers to use a seatbelt, drive at safe speeds, and to use a designated driver if they are planning to consume alcohol. Jones also said that drivers need to be aware of the vehicles driving around them, as most motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers, not the motorcyclist.

The state of Kentucky has taken an active role in driver attentiveness with House Bill 415, which imposes new traffic regulations regarding the use of personal communication devices while driving. The new law imposes the following restrictions:

Aca,!Ac No person may write, send or read a text-based communication (including text messages, instant messages and emails) while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion.
Aca,!Ac No person under the age of 18 may operate a motor vehicle while using a personal communication device (including talking, texting or emailing on cell phones, smart phones or other PDAs) except when it is necessary to summon medical help or law enforcement in an emergency situation.

The new law provides for a grace period until January 1, 2011 in which drivers will not be ticketed, but will receive a courtesy warning. The new penalties will be enforced and citations will be issued starting January 1, 2011.

With this 3d ESC not seeing many accidental fatalities as of July 2011, Jones considers the safety campaign to be a success. He attributes this to the command's emphasis on safety, as well as Soldiers doing what they are supposed to.

"As leaders, we can stress safety over and over again, but ultimately it's up to each individual Soldier to be safe and do the right thing," he said.


Photos and story by Sgt. Michael Behlin, 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) public affairs.
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