Safety is paramount at half-way point of summer

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Mary Davis
  • Public Affairs
Summer fun can turn deadly for people who make poor safety choices -- that's why Operational Risk Management is so important at this time of year.
"During the summer, we see an increase in outdoor activities such as yard work, water sports, hiking, camping and many other potentially hazardous activities," said Randy Hakman, wing ground safety manager. "ORM should be a mindset to assess potential risks and reject unnecessary risks."
According to the Air Education and Training Command ground safety office, two people lost their lives within the first five days of the Operation Safe Summer -- Zero Fatalities safety campaign. The Air Force as a whole has had 13 fatalities during the summer safety campaign. While many of the mishaps are still under investigation, some contributing factors included negligence, failure to follow traffic regulations, excessive speed, seatbelts non-usage, driving while fatigued and driving under the influence of alcohol. Of the nine vehicle fatalities, only one was caused by the other driver.
"Vance only had a few minor mishaps with no fatalities," Mr. Hakman said. "These mishaps could have been avoided by using ORM and asking yourself, 'Is this the smart thing to do?'"
One smart thing to do is read the information on AETC ground safety's Web page ( that designates themes for each week of the safety campaign. This week focuses on bicycle, motorcycle and vehicle safety.
According to Air Force Instruction 91-207, Air Force Traffic Safety Program, motorcycle operators must wear personal protective gear including:
n Protective helmets (required for all passengers as well)
n Impact-resistant goggles or full-face shield
n Brightly colored or contrasting vest or jacket as an outer upper garment and reflective at night. Outer upper garment will not be covered by a backpack or other items.
n Long-sleeve shirts or jackets
n Full-fingered motorcycle gloves or mittens
n Long trousers and sturdy footwear
Military people must wear these items on and off base, as well as both on and off duty. Civilians are required to wear these items while riding on base.
Personal protective gear can prevent serious injuries and save lives. If Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had worn personal protective gear, he might not have needed seven hours of reconstructive surgery when his motorcycle collided with a car that turned in front of him June 12. Although his injuries were serious, they were not life threatening. He is luckier than the 4,008 motorcycle riders killed last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Of the nine AETC mishaps, six occurred in vehicles. Some driving tips the AETC ground safety Web site included are:
n Keep eyes on the road -- use a hands-free phone device (this mandatory on Air Force installations)
n Program favorite radio stations in advance and arrange CDs or MP3 players in an accessible place
n Don't try to retrieve items that have fallen on the floor of the vehicle
n Designate the front-seat passenger as the trip navigator
n Take a break when fatigue persists
n Avoid alcohol or medication causing drowsiness prior to the trip
To ensure people stay incident-free for the rest of the summer, Mr. Hakman said to "make sure your vehicle is road-worthy for long trips, get plenty of rest before any long trip, alternate drivers when traveling long distances and use ORM when making decisions that affect the safety of you and your family," he said. "Most importantly, don't drink and drive -- use a designated driver or call a cab to take you home."