By the Knowledge Staff of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 2, 2018) – Have you ever pulled onto the road to work and thought you’d just joined a NASCAR race? Getting to and from work each day can exciting, scary and challenging.
Every military installation seems to have its own superspeedway. It could be Fort Rucker’s Rucker Boulevard or Highway 84 West; Fort Campbell’s 41A; Fort Hood’s Highway 190 or 195; Fort Bragg’s Bragg Boulevard; Fort Polk’s Highway 117; or Fort Drum’s New York State Route 3 and 11 – just to name a few. Those of you who’ve been assigned to one of these installations know exactly what I’m talking about. It just amazes me how many people totally disregard the speed limits on these roads.
What concerns me even more than the speeders, however, is the number of motorists I see on the road who fail to wear seat belts. Why would anybody believe that was acceptable? We lose too many Soldiers, civilians and Family members in vehicle accidents. When I read in the Preliminary Loss Reports that these accident victims weren’t wearing a seat belt, I have to ask, “What were they thinking?”
A few months ago, as I was driving home from post, a car with five young men passed me. When I looked over, I could see none of them were wearing their seat belts since the shoulder straps were flapping in the breeze. I knew these guys were Soldiers from the sticker on the vehicle’s back window and their standard military haircuts. I decided to follow them to see where they were going.
The Soldiers pulled into a parking lot where a few of them exited the car and headed toward another vehicle. I pulled up alongside them, identified myself and asked why they weren’t wearing their seat belts. They all looked at one another for a second or two before the driver answered, “I don’t know.”
I asked them if they were flight students, to which they all answered “yes.” I then asked if they wore their seat restraints when they flew. Again, they answered “yes.” After all, what might happen if they disregarded a checklist item? So my next question was why did they feel that they didn’t need to wear a seat belt when in a private motor vehicle? No one could answer.
I told the Soldiers it is mandatory they wear their seat belts whether they’re the driver or a passenger in a PMV. The Army takes a serious stand on Soldiers buckling up all the time. I went on to tell the Soldiers that losing just one of them to a vehicle accident would hurt the Army’s warfighting mission and degrade readiness. The unit each one was going to would also be one Soldier short when it deployed.
As future leaders, I reminded them about their responsibility of setting the example each and every time for the Soldiers they would be leading. I then told them to be safe and continued on my way home. I’ll never know if I really got through to those Soldiers. But I felt it was my responsibility to speak up when I saw them doing something so foolish.
So what about you? Do you wear your seat belt? We never know when, where or how an accident may occur. Even if you are driving defensively, you can’t control the actions of others on the road. Play it safe. Buckle up every time, every trip.
To read this article as it appears on the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, visit here.