As Army communities transition from spring to summer, they do so knowing Soldiers, government civilians and their family members are entering what is historically the most dangerous time of the year.
Accident data from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center tells us we must act now to prevent increases in on- and off-duty accidents between now and September. Although our Army sustained a decade-long record of reducing loss to mishaps in fiscal 2016, the majority of non-aviation Soldier fatalities are still happening during warm weather months.
The annual observance of National Safety Month is just a couple of weeks away, and I encourage all leaders to educate Soldiers, civilians and family members on the hazards associated with the summer months – particularly those associated with the operation of privately owned motor vehicles and engaging in outdoor sports and recreation. As leaders, we owe it to every member of the team to prepare them on how to best protect themselves and their loved ones.
Our Army installations offer hundreds of miles of pedestrian-friendly paths and sidewalks, and our population of compliant drivers makes walking and running fun and relatively risk free. Such an environment makes it easy for those who live or work on post to become desensitized because of the reduced hazards.
However, the threat to pedestrians off our installations remains high and, as this year’s mishaps show, a moment’s inattention is unforgiving. The recent spike in pedestrian-related Soldier fatalities is alarming; nearly quadrupling historical averages. Crossing a highway on foot, retrieving items lost on the roadway, and running on busy public streets regardless of time of day can be deadly.
Each of us at every level of leadership plays a part in keeping our force ready for future missions. Engaged leaders and proactive risk management provide the foundation to buttress safety and capability whenever the mission dictates. Use these safety month observances as a catalyst for conversation and develop a plan for the months ahead. Every effort makes a difference and, together, we enable readiness through safety!