By Lt. Col. Scott Wile, Director, Driving Directorate, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety CenterJune 8, 2012
June isn't just National Safety Month -- it's also the beginning of summer and the season of road trips and vacations, and we all have a responsibility to ensure those journeys don't end with a one-way ticket to tragedy.
Most Soldiers know the drill when checking a vehicle out of the motor pool: You don't leave the gate before you perform a technical inspection. The same principle applies before you leave your driveway. Check your fluid, coolant and oil levels, tire tread, belts and hoses, and operation of all lights and signals immediately prior to departure. If these steps are important enough to take before putting an Army vehicle on the road, they're just as critical for you and your Family on the highway.
A fully operable vehicle is essential to safe travels, but the most significant function of any trip is the driver. Adequate rest is absolutely necessary, and you should be aware of the side effects of any medications you're taking. Fortunately, drinking and driving incidents have been on the decline in recent years, but we still lose a few Soldiers to DUI annually. Make a plan before celebrating; designating a driver or hiring a taxi is an inexpensive and easy way to stay safe. Also remember to complete a TRiPS report before departing on longer trips -- your supervisor may have valuable tips to help you mitigate potential risks along the way. Finally, be mindful that indiscipline kills. Ensure your and all passengers' seat belts are buckled, and always follow posted speed limits and local driving laws.
Motorcycle riding is one of the most enjoyable hobbies around, but it's definitely not carefree. In fact, indiscipline remains the top causal factor in motorcycle accidents involving Soldiers, with speed and reckless riding commonly cited in fatality reports. Riders have important considerations to keep in mind before ever hitting the road, and the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center has a number of tools to help you stay safe.
Visit the Privately Owned Vehicle Safety page at https://safety.army.mil/povmotorcyclesafety for relevant guidance, checklists, training information and links to successful Motorcycle Mentorship Programs, one of the single-best tools to reduce injuries and fatalities among our Army's riding population. Also check back soon for the latest addition to our motorcycle arsenal, "Leader/Individual Motorcycle Operator Responsibilities." This pamphlet, scheduled for release later this month, contains roles and responsibilities for both leaders riding culture across their respective units.
Whether you hit the road on two wheels or four, your attitude is the most important prerequisite for a safe trip -- and that's true not only in June, but year-round too. Enjoy your summer, but remember to always play it safe!
For more information on National Safety Month and summer safety, visit https://safety.army.mil.